2017-09-05 08:30

Research takes the deafblind out of the dark

A garment that can act as a communicative interface for deafblind people – this is the expected result of a unique and innovative EU project scheduled to start in early 2018. The University of Borås coordinates the project with universities and companies from seven different countries.

The deafblind are a group in society dependent on other people such as family members or assistants to sense the world. Now, researchers in the EU project SUITCEYES will develop a prototype made from smart textiles to provide the deafblind with new communication opportunities.

SUITCEYES stands for Smart, User-friendly, Interactive, Tactual, Cognition-Enhancer that Yields Extended Sensosphere

The partners in the project have different responsibilities:

- The University of Borås is the project coordinator and via The Swedish School of Library and Information Science and Smart Textiles responsible for developing the smart, haptic interface by using smart textiles.
- Centre for Research & Technology Hellas (CERTH), Greece, is responsible for face and object recognition, data capture, translation, and semantics.
- Offenburg University, Germany, is responsible for gamification and social interaction.
- University of Leeds, Great Britain, is responsible for user needs studies and social inclusion as well as navigation and environmental perception.
- Vrije Universiteit, Netherlands, is responsible for haptic psychophysics and for testing the prototype.
- Les Doigts Qui Rêvent, France, disseminating the results.
- Harpo, Polen, is responsible for disseminating and exploitation of the results.

“By using sensors and other technologies, the garment will take in information about what happens around the person. This will enable linguistic communication, and it will also enhance learning as well as add something fun for the bearer”, Nasrine Olson says, project coordinator and senior lecturer at the Swedish School of Library and Information Science.

Garments communicating through haptic language

The idea is that the garments transfer information to the bearers through haptic language, i.e. a language of touch and movements, and can for example tell the bearers if someone is looking at them or where the ball they dropped is in the room.

“Smart textiles are perfect to use when we develop the interface, as our body is constantly in contact with textiles. It’s more or less just in the shower that it isn’t”, says Nils-Krister Persson, docent and research leader of Smart Textiles at the University of Borås.

Contracts are now being signed between the parties and the EU within the framework of Horizon2020, EU’s so far largest research and innovation programme. The project is expected to start in early 2018 and last for the next three years. At the end of the project, hopefully there is a prototype that could be developed into a product of the participating companies.

“We believe that the garment then could be used in other areas as well, such as sports, so a trainer can monitor an athlete’s movements, or divers or firefighters in areas with limited vision who need their hands free”, Nasrine Olson says.

Read more

About Nasrine Olson.

Smart Textiles. (External link)

About the research area Library and information science.

Text: Anna Kjellsson