When used by a blind individual, this device will replace the traditional White Cane. Furthermore, the device acts as a personal assistant, responding to many commands said by the user, such as, “call my brother”, “what is my current location”, “take me to <address>”, along with others. Despite the large feature set, the device will only cost slightly more than a white cane, about $80. When the user speaks a address the device will provide audible directions. I named the device VAVI: Virtual Aid for the Visually Impaired.
Although a smartphone does most of the processing, to reduce the cost, the device still requires hardware components, each playing an essential role in the overall functionality.
A custom PCB that I designed in Eagle CAD acts as the “brain”. It integrates the bluetooth module, AtMega328 processor and other essential electronic components. A MaxBotix ultrasonic sensor takes care of object detection, preventing the user from bumping into stuff in their path. This device is cheap, small and very accurate. A vibration motor along with a piezo buzzer provide the user with audible and physical feedback. A 850mAh rechargeable LiPo battery acts as the power source. Finally an induction coil is used to wirelessly charge VAVI.
I designed and programmed an Android app in Java. Since the app will be used by a visually impaired person a graphic UI is nonexistent. Instead, a user interacts with the app by the means of voice prompts and commands. Below are screenshots of V1 of the application, V2 is in the works and will be completed in about 3 weeks.
When the personal assistant is launched the user can say the following commands with the bellow outcomes.
“go to <address>”
The application will load the directions using the Google Maps API, then give the user audible directions until they reach their destination. Objects in front of the user, blocking their path, will be detected by the ultrasonic sensor and the user will be given a audible warning “object detected”.
“call <contact name>”
The application will call the specified person.
“send <contact name> my current”
The application will send the specified person your current location in the bellow format.
“what is my current location”
The application tell you your location.
The application will say a list of commands available to the user.
“find my device”
The vibration motor and the piezo buzzer on the device both switch on. A user would use this command if they dropped, lost or misplaced VAVI.
Regional Science Fair
In March of 2014 I competed at the Niagara Regional Science and Engineering Fair and won a Gold medal and the following sponsored awards:
- Consulting Engineers of Ontario
- Niagara Electrical Association
- Hatch Engineering
Canada Wide Science Fair
In May of 2014 (10th – 17th) I competed at the Canada Wide Science and Engineering Fair in Windsor, Ontario and won a silver medal and the following awards:
- Western University Scholarship $2000
Google Science Fair
I have entered my innovation in the Google Science Fair.
VAVI In the News