Educational Haptic Gloves Puts Hand-On-Learning On Your Hands

Georgia Tech’s School of Interactive Computing teaches Braille in 45 minutes with haptic feedback gloves.

Researchers at the College of Computing in Georgia Tech have developed haptic gloves that can teach people how to read Braille in under 45 minutes.

A few years ago, researchers developed a technology-enhanced glove that taught people how to play piano melodies in under an hour. Now they have taken the same technology and used it to teach people how to read and even write Braille in less than 45 minutes.

Thad Starner, a professor and director of the School of Interactive Computing, presented the haptic gloves at the MIT Tech Review Conference held in San Francisco last week.

Starner worked with PhD student Caitlyn Seim to study how the wearable computing gloves can be used to teach Braille in a passive way. According to Starner the process is based on passive haptic learning. He said, “We’ve learned that people can acquire motor skills through vibrations without devoting active attention to their hands.”

Participants in the Starner and Seim’s study wore a pair of gloves with miniature vibrating motors stitched into the knuckles. The motors vibrated in a sequence that corresponded to the typing pattern of a phrase in Braille. Audio cues told the participants of the Braille letters formed by typing the sequence. The participants then tried to type the phrase on a keyboard, without any of the vibrations or audio cues helping them.

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The participants were then subjected to a “distraction” game while the sequences were repeated. The study participants were instructed to ignore the gloves while they played a game for half an hour. Half of them were subjected to the vibrations and audio cues, while the other half only received audio cues. After the game, they all tried to type out the sequence again.

The participants who felt the vibrations during the game were more accurate in typing out the sequence, while the control group did the same on their second attempt as they did at the start. The results were something the researchers expected but what surprised them was that the participants who received vibrations during the game could not only write Braille but read it as well. The passive learners were able to read and recognize most of the letters in the Braille phrase.

Seim is doing a second study that uses passive haptic learning to teach the entire Braille alphabet during four sessions.

The studies on Braille learning will be presented at the 18th International Symposium on Wearable Computers (ISWC) in Seattle this September.

Georgia Tech College of Computing

Source: Co.Labs

Images: jasonpearce, Georgia Tech College of Computing

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