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STTR Phase I: An Assistive Tool to Locate People and Objects with a Multimodal Thermogram Interface
Phone: (612) 481-8723
Phone: (612) 481-8723
Phone: () -
Type: Nonprofit college or university
This Small Business Technology Transfer Research (STTR) Phase I project will leverage past National Science Foundation Funded research to prove that a blind/low vision user can receive practical navigation and interaction information about their environment from a multimodal thermogram (thermal image) interface on a smartphone. There are no practical assistive technologies for blind or low vision users that allow them to locate people, objects, and the layout information of their surroundings other than exploring with a cane. This research will address the objective of creating an interface that provides both practical utility and will be accepted by the target demographic of blind users. This project represents an excellent translational path from NSF-sponsored research programs to a real-world system that is built from the ground up on solid theoretical underpinnings and empirical findings from multimodal human information processing. This research will use thermal radiation from people, machines, lighting and heat retention differences in building materials and convert this data into a user interface to facilitate blind navigation and environment interaction. The research result will be a multimodal (kinesthetic, vibro-tactile, and auditory) interface for blind users of a smartphone to interpret and gain useful value from thermal image information. The broader impact/commercial potential of this project will go beyond assistive use of thermal technology for blind users. This technology will have a societal impact by improving the quality of life and autonomy for the blind in the same way that Global Positioning System and handheld computing have. Information about the layout of an unfamiliar public space can be learned from the heat and shape of materials, which will assist blind users in work environments or everyday activities. With the global proliferation of smartphone usage and an aging population, the commercial market for this assistive product will continue to see strong growth in the future. After the technology for low cost thermal imaging on a smartphone has been developed, the market for sighted users could benefit from numerous related applications as well. For example, various commercial industries could benefit from low cost thermal imaging on a smartphone that can communicate data wirelessly through a cellular network. Industry examples might include: manufacturing, petrochemical installations, construction, electrical systems, food packaging, or agriculture applications. The commercial market for applications used by sighted people will likely exceed the commercial market for blind users.
* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *