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Ubitone

Ubitone assists communication with deaf-blind people.

概要

Ubitone is a communication device which solves loneliness of deaf-blind people. Acquired deaf-blind people can speak out but can't hear nor see. By using this, deaf-blind can communicate with people without special knowledge like tactile signing.


経緯

When I visited an NPO which provides audio ebooks for deaf people in the United States, one of the visitors told me that she has a deaf-blind friend. I didn’t even know that there was such impairment in the world until then, and I got shocked. It turned out that there are more than 20,000 deaf-blind people in my home country. I wanted to do something as an engineer, and I emailed and visited an NPO for deaf-blind people on my return home. Through the visit, I got understood their lives more deeply and I’d decided to develop a device for them.


機能

By using vocal recognition as a machine learning technique and Braille dictionary, ubitone translate the voice into an understandable form for deaf-blindness. The device has six rings with vibrators and It transmits 6-dot cells of Braille as vibration to six fingers. The app on a smartphone performs processing and communicates information by linking with the device via Bluetooth. The speech recognition engine and Braille dictionary are all completed in the application, so they can be used without problems in offline environments such as tunnels.


開発過程

I have had many prototypes and user tests with an NPO, Osaka Deaf-Blind Friends Association. The tests have been conducted in the room, or at the time of shopping outside, so we try various situation. When I first took my prototype, I received a message from them saying, "Use us as guinea pigs because it is an idea that might change the world." I considered regular Braille which has many 6-dot cells in a line at first, but I was told that the people use finger Braille for their real-time communication. I developed a form in which six dots are distributed to different fingers. The early ones were desktop braille devices, but there was a talk that they wanted to use them while moving or standing, and I developed glove types. The glove type was made into a ring-shaped type because the hand was steamed and the fixed position of the place made it difficult for deaf-blind people who lost some of their fingers to cope. At first, development was promoted using Raspberry Pie, but in consideration of future extensibility (for example, remote call, linkage of other applications, etc.), the main application is activated on the smartphone and information is communicated by linking with the device via Bluetooth.


差別化

It is unique in that it focuses on deaf-blind people and enables real-time communication. Although there are Braille devices for blind people in the world, they do not correspond to the communication in real time, because they are the ones that convert the text into Braille. The six-point braille itself is used worldwide, but finger braille is a communication method that was born in Japan that requires more characters than the alphabet, and this device based on that method may be also called an idea unique to Japan.


将来の計画

Currently, only Japanese and English are supported, and so many languages ​​will be supported. The design has been completed to reduce weight and reduce wiring and to simplify installation, but this is not announced here because the patent application has not been filed. As mentioned above, the app will be expanded to enjoy remote calls and entertainment such as radio podcasts. We think that it will be necessary to cooperate with a manufacturing company while securing funds in order to break through the manufacturing law, radio law, etc. and make it commercially available.


他アワードでの受賞歴

International Students Creative Award (ISCA) 2018, Digital Content Category Grand Prize


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