Finger-worn interfaces are a vastly unexplored space for interaction design. EyeRing is a novel design and concept of a finger-worn input device. It opens up a world of possibilities for solving day-to-day problems for the visually impaired and the sighted alike. We demonstrate a wide range of EyeRing-enabled interactions that require minimal effort from the users without having to shift their attention. Preliminary user reactions suggested that EyeRing applications are indeed intuitive and seamless.
Assistive applications for the visually impaired
- Shopping assistant (e.g. price tag recognition, currency recognition)
- Indoor navigation
- Reading non braille text
Augmented and Mixed Reality applications for the sighted
- Smart assistant (copy-paste from a book to a computer; get personalised information by pointing at objects)
- A tool to empower children in pre-reading stage (read text on their own)
- ‘Paint brush’ to capture a color/texture from a real object (for brush stroke) and draw or paint on a screen or projected canvas.
- Remote troubleshooting (get remote assistance by pointing at different parts of a complex system)
Visual Impaired users: Our first target audience would be visually impaired people (mainly in developed countries) who are keen to explore new types of assistive devices. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2011, there were about 60 million visually impaired people living in USA and Europe . EyeRing brings about a breakthrough in assistive technology devices for the visually impaired by using widely available technology in a much more compact, convenient form. It addresses fundamental challenges faced by visually impaired people and helps them to fulfill their basic safety and protection needs while improving their self-esteem and self-actualization.
Children: In 2003, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, USA, 67% of children in nursery schools were using a digital device such as a notebook computer. In addition there is a wide customer base for education tools/toys like LeapPad . This wide availability of digital technology exposes children to many drawing applications on smartphones/tablets and other personal digital devices. While drawing applications do a decent job in engaging young children in the digital domain, they may disconnect these children from the physical world around them. Children have shown improved science test scores after short outdoor educational programs, validating the bond between education and exposure to nature. This motivated us to develop a visual art related tool for helping children to engage in drawing while bringing environmental attributes into the context.
EyeRing not only provides intuitive interaction with computing devices but also with the environment and could be the next disrupting technology in HCI.
EyeRing features the following key technologies:
- A camera mounted on a ring worn on a finger (typically index finger) with embedded processor and wireless connection.
- A computer vision engine for image processing.
- Optional speech input to give commands to the system and optional speech output (alternative is screen output) to receive information about something pointed at.
Our current prototype has the following specifications:
- Maximum image resolution of 640 x 480
- Bluetooth connectivity
- Android mobile device with base application (Android 3.1)
There are four key advantages that EyeRing offer:
- ‘Immediate’ interface: requires minimal number of steps to accomplish a task. As a result, the cost-benefit ratio of this input device is better.
- ‘Less disruptive’: doesn’t require the user to switch his/her focus of attention to interact.
- ‘Natural to operate’: based on a human gesture that is ubiquitous - pointing with the index finger.
- ‘Hands-free operation’: compared to a smart-phone application where a user would have to hold the phone with one or both hands