Purdue-developed technology that helps visually impaired see digital images presented on Capitol Hill

HaptImage LLC, a Purdue Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering-affiliated startup, presented an assistive technology that helps people with visual impairments “see” digital images at the 2019 University Innovation and Entrepreneurship Showcase in Washington, D.C.
The event is held annually by the Association of American Universities and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities to highlight federally funded university research that advances entrepreneurship, innovation and economic opportunities.

Startups were selected on criteria including the use of federal research funds to create and commercialize technologies to improve lives and contribute to the global society.

The HaptImage technology employs an algorithm that changes digital images into physical sensations that impersonate the would-be exterior of a portrayed object. Users hold a joystick that resembles an ink pen that makes vibrations and resistance in correspondence with the digital object's shape and feel while users move the joystick around.

“The technology helps students interact in real time while in a classroom and creates ‘touch-based learning.' That is critical for all students, but especially for students who are blind or have limited vision. Real-time access to images is crucial to allow social integration and education for individuals who are blind or with limited vision,” said Shruthi Suresh, a doctoral student in the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering in a university article. Suresh is a BMES member. 

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