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STTR Phase I: An Assistive Tool to Locate People and Objects with a Multimodal Thermogram Interface

Award Information
Agency: National Science Foundation
Branch: N/A
Contract: 1346292
Agency Tracking Number: 1346292
Amount: $224,503.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: STTR
Solicitation Topic Code: EI
Solicitation Number: N/A
Solicitation Year: 2013
Award Year: 2014
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2014-01-01
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2014-12-31
Small Business Information
6901 East Fish Lake Rd Suite 190
maple grove, MN 55369-5457
United States
DUNS: 078662436
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Brian Hanzal
 (612) 481-8723
Business Contact
 Brian Hanzal
Phone: (612) 481-8723
Research Institution
 University of Maine
5717 Corbett Hall
ORONO, ME 04469-
United States

 () -
 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. *

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