Studying in the final semester of Software Engineering department at COMSATS University, three students have laid foundation to a groundbreaking idea.
They have developed Optasia, a navigation system for the blind and visually-challenged.
Team members Hashim Naveed, Javeria Rasheed and Faizan Shabbir came up with the idea for Optasia after looking at how Pakistani society treats disabled people. Not enough is being done for blind people in our country and it was time someone changed this with the use of commonly available technology.
Their answer – using a mobile application and a specially designed and customizable cane.
In order to solve a problem that blind people face worldwide, the team from COMSATS decided to design a product that can help the visually-challenged easily navigate from Point A to Point B.
Speaking exclusively to ProPakistan, Javeria Rasheed, a member of the team said:
“Our project is still in testing phase but we are fully committed to turn this [final year project] into a marketable product, to help and assist the less fortunate.”
How Does Optasia Work?
The functionality of this Optasia is fairly simple to comprehend. It requires a smartphone, with the Optasia application installed and synced with the customizable cane.
The smartphone is mounted onto the customized cane, which is equipped with 4 sonar sensors; placed on left, right, front and upper front of the cane. Moreover, there is a hand glove attached to the cane.
When the Optasia application is opened, it automatically detects the location of the blind person through GPS system. Through voice recognition system, the blind person speaks out the destination and the optimal path is calculated by the application.
After the path is selected, the smartphone camera is utilized to guide the blind person towards the destination.
How Will Obstacles Be Detected?
There are two ways through which the blind person can be informed about the obstacles that they encounter in theie path:
1) Via Mobile Application:
Through digital image processing, the camera stream is fetched by the application. By using voice recognization system it alerts the blind person about the incoming hurdles.
2) Via Vibrations:
Another way that Optasia works is through the four sonar sensors equipped on the glove that are always assessing the surroundings. Depending upon the location of the sensor, it sends a vibration to the respective vibrator placed on the glove:
- Vibration felt on index finger = Obstacle is at lower front.
- Vibration felt on thumb = Obstacle is at upper front.
- Vibration felt on pinkie = Obstacle is at left side.
- Vibration felt on top of the glove = Obstacle is on the right side.
Where the world is busy with its capitalistic ideas, working on an idea for the betterment of humankind should be appreciated. For an educational system which offers limited technical assistance to students, an idea of this capability is truly inspirational. With proper support and investment, this startup could turn into a leading aid manufacturer for the blind.