The focus of the project is with alternative methods for personal information delivery through low cost, open source wearable devices and the integration of such devices into complete applications. In particular, we are interested applications requiring rich information delivery using non-verbal and non-visual means, e.g., through haptic devices of various forms. Currently, we are considering various haptic interfaces between machine and human, such as vibration based methods and pressure based methods.

There are two main thrusts in this research effort. The first thrust aims at developing affordable haptic wearables with open source design. We have developed a preliminary version of a wearable device in the form of a wearable waist/neck belt. The device is mainly composed of a micro-controller with an array of vibrational motors. Information is delivered to the device wirelessly. The left three pictures below show an early prototype of this device.

The second thrust is the integration of our haptic device into a fully function device stack. An immediate application of our wearable haptic device is to deliver geometric information from some data source. One natural such data source is the environment in a computer game. To test this idea, we have developed a haptic maze game (the rightmost picture above) in which the player is notified through the wearable device whether the player's left/front/right have obstacles that must be avoided. The player must use keyboard to navigate through the maze without looking at the screen. Playing such a game without vision requires excellent spatial memory. Testing shows that the game, besides being very challenging, is also very fun to play.

As another application, our second integration effort is related to the safe mobility project. We re integrating google tango into our device stack. From the tango device we get the depth data, which let us detect whether there are walls or other obstacles around a user. This allows visually and hearing impaired to effectively explore cluttered, previously unknown environment. A further goal with the tango device is to use it's localization capability for full indoor navigation.