Finally, a prosthetic for the blind that doesn't require surgery. TremorSense combines a camera and the sense of touch to restore visual perception to the visually impaired. Just charge it up and strap it on.
TremorSense uses the Microsoft Kinect XBox 360 sensor to capture images and map them to an array of vibrating motors placed on the skin of a blind person.
The electrical, mechanical, and software engineering was quite involved and we relied heavily on the open-source community.
The Kinect (model 1473) was connected to a BeagleBoard XM and the images were acquired using the latest source code of libfreenect (as of 4/2014). The images were processed using OpenCV 2.4.8 compiled from source to work with Qt 5.0. The data was transmitted to the motor driver over a serial port using minicom. The serial port we used was an FTDI virtual com port.
The motor driver is an arduino microcontroller that receives the serial data from the BeagleBoard and transmits the serial data to 6 TLC5940 PWM driver chips over a custom serial protocol developed by the Arduino community. The PWM chips drive MOSFETs which control the vibration speed of the vibration motors on the array. Please contact us for more detail.
We tried a BeagleBone Black (BBB) but we ran into a USB bandwidth issue seen by others that causes the BBB to drop packets and freeze. We have successfully tested our system at 15 frames per second with an array of 100 vibrating motors.
Feel free to contact us. We are trying to gauge public interest and solicit feature requests. If you know a blind person in the south eastern United States, please refer them to us and we'll see if they like the design and do some preliminary testing. Thank you!
Paul Askins paulmaskins"at"mail.usf.edu
Gemin Bang geminhup"at"gmail.com
Gregory Holst gholst"at"gatech.edu