Vision through the skinTuesday, March 29th, 2011 by Eduardo Mucelli R. Oliveira
Physical barriers in streets and public roads create major problems to visually impaired people. Even the home environment can be a major challenge for impaired vision people.
Now imagine if a visually impaired person could receive feedback from the environment through common tools such as a walking stick, or even through the touch with his hands. By touching an object, he could as an example hear a specific sound or a description of the object and how to operate it. In the future, this may become possible using technologies such as that developed by NTT, and now being studied in the Telecom Italia research labs, which makes data transmission possible using the skin. This technology combined with transmission of sound through the bones and certain tags embedded in objects could let a person learn much more about the environment. The user would carry a device on his body, e.g., inside a pocket, which sends and receives data. Devices capable of generating data transmission through the skin are getting smaller and may provide less discomfort to the user.
This idea can be expanded to the possibility of considering the exchange of information between user and environment, for example, opening doors through a code exchanged between his hands and the handle. Thus, the user need not use conventional keys and could unlock the door at the touch of his hands. Also, this device could communicate with smart appliances, and for example, the washing machine could be programmed by touch.