Real Time Tactile Image Generator for the Blind and Visually Impaired

253 million people on this Earth have visual impairments. I feel fortunate to have none of these impairments, but I wanted to do something to give these people some imitation of sight, and thus the birth of my science fair project. In this engineering project, I have made a mechanism to convert an image from a camera into a tangible surface that can be felt by the user. A tangible image is an image that can be perceived by touch. A classic example is pin art, like the one in the image below. If I could successfully create one of these using live feed from a camera, the visually impaired could use it in their daily lives. In order to create my mechanism, I took an image from a camera. Then I pixelated the image to the number of pins used to portray the image. I used a 6x6 array to prove the concept. By taking the average luminosity value (brightness) of each sector, I could drive the height of the pin to represent the average brightness. I used a camera which fed an image into OpenCV (an open source computer vision program). The program pixelated the image and sent the brightness value of each pixel to an Arduino which drove each of the 36 rods via servos to create a tactile map of the image brightness. In the future, I would like to use smaller servos to make my design more portable. Also instead of using luminosity, I could a use a Lidar (laser based radar) which can determine the distance to an object to create a true topographical map similar to a pin art toy.

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