Andrey Kolupaev, a PhD student of the Faculty of Biomedical Sciences, is working on a portable communication device for people with sight problems. The researcher says that the device can be connected to a smartphone and thus enable blind people to use all the functions of the gadget. This in turn, will make it much easier for such people to study and will give them more opportunities to express themselves in work and art.
“I am a biologist and radioelectronics is my hobby. The idea to design such a device was a spontaneous one. The device is a kind of portable 65x45x25 mm console connected to a smartphone via Bluetooth. The smartphone software supports this device and allows the blind to use it. All the actions are performed with voice commands,” – says Andrey Kolupaev.
The model of the device has already been tested by people with disabilities. The authors received all the necessary comments and recommendations, and the project is now in its final stage. First, the developers are going to produce a test set of ten devices, and test them with the help of the Voronezh special school for children with disabilities No. 3. Then they will start serial production, first with a small batch, and then a large-scale production that will reduce the cost of the device.
“There are many similar devices, but they all have serious drawbacks. They either have limited functionality, or are too expensive for the majority of the population to buy. There are, for example, special devices for text input, the so-called braille displays. But text input is their only function. Besides, they are quite large and you can’t take one with you. Our device, on the contrary, is quite small. Another example of such devices are mobile phones for the blind. Their disadvantage is that they are very expensive. Only quite well-off people can afford such a mobile phone, while the cost of our devices is about 50 000 roubles. The second drawback of mobile phones for the blind is that they have few functions and proprietary software with no option to upgrade the firmware. We use open source software, so anyone who is interested may develop applications to use with the device. The functionality of our device is limited only by the developer's imagination,” – says Andrey Kolupaev.
The researcher believes that his socially relevant project may attract large pharmaceutical enterprises, medical equipment producers, rehabilitation centres for the disabled, educational institutions, schools for children with disabilities, and state and private healthcare services and hospitals.