Friday, March 24, 2006


After contacting a small number of blind groups, a member of the Birmingham Focus on Blindness group was kind enough to reply to our email.

As mentioned previously the email I sent out was very much the same email Mark sent to Peter White. Posted below is the reply I received, all contact details have been removed (and replaced with a [cut]) for the purposes of upholding user privacy.

The reply is from Stuart James


Like the sound of the project very much. There are some well thought our
solutions. Particularly like the watch and earpiece idea. Have you thought of
the military applications that could make your fortune?

If you would like to arrange a demo to a selected audience of blind or visually
impaired people then please contact us again - either myself or Will Thornton.
Email us at [cut] or [cut] or ring [cut] and ask.

One word of warning though, beware the cost! The majority of VI people are
unemployed and simply won't be able to afford high cost technolohy.



-----Original Message-----
From: [cut]
Sent: 22 March 2006 21:10
To: Stuart James
Subject: Requesting your help on a future access technology

Dear Stuart,

My name is Daniel Trimm and I'm a student at the University of Birmingham,
studying a course in Computer Science.

I am in a team of three students who have taken up the challenge of
developing an electronic personal guidance and assistance device for blind
and visually-impaired people. We have almost completed the design of our
device but we require feedback from those who are most likely to find it
useful, and so we decided to get in touch with you.

In brief the device takes the form of a smart watch and bluetooth headset,
both connected wirelessly to a pocket-sized processing unit. We decided to
tackle the tasks of guiding a user around an outdoor environment such as an
unfamiliar town centre, as well as localised indoor environments such as
supermarkets, using a GPS system such as the Galileo system being launched
by Europe at the moment.

We designed the device to be controlled using the smart watch, which has a
rotating bezel to scroll up and down menu items in a similar way to the
iPod click wheel, and buttons to go back and forward in menus. Menu items
are spoken through the headset. Shopping lists for a supermarket or travel
itineraries for a day in town can be created on the user's PC and
downloaded to the central processing unit, although there is no requirement
for pre-planning your day as you can use the smart watch to locate specific
places or items once you're out in the field too.

The smart watch guides the user using a ring of pressure pins underneath,
pressed against the user's skin, corresponding to points of the compass. As
the user moves around, the active (pressed) pins also move to guide the
user around corners to the destination. Voice prompts can be given through
the headset to assist in this too.

GPS overlays giving more information about the user's surrounding area,
such as the location of aisles and checkouts in a supermarket, or bus stops
and other public locations in the town, are downloaded automatically by the
device to give more information to the GPS route finding system. Items in
the supermarket can be identified by firstly going to the correct aisle
using the directions from the smart watch GPS system, which makes use of an
overlay provided by the supermarket containing details of which aisles
contain which items. A hand-held barcode scanner provided by the
supermarket then gives the user information on the product they are
curretnly holding, so they can determine if it's the product they need.

The journal of our development process, including all our thoughts on the
device, can be seen at
If you could be so kind
as to let us know any thoughts or comments you have on our device design,
that would be appreciated very much and would help us to refine the design
for future users.

Thank you for your time.

Daniel Trimm


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