IIT Kanpur to launch novel haptic smart watch for blind and visually impaired, signs MoU with Ambrane India
• The watch was developed by Prof. Siddhartha Panda and Mr. Vishwaraj Srivastava from the National Centre for Flexible Electronics at IIT Kanpur.
• The haptic watch comes in two variants and has 12 touch sensitive hour markers arranged over the dial face.
• The Smartwatch variant indicates health parameters such as heart rate, step count, hydration reminder and smart timer to set short timer by using simple gesture.
Kanpur: The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur entered into a technology transfer MoU with Ambrane India Private Limited for mass manufacturing and sales of the “haptic smart watch for blind and visually impaired”. The breakthrough innovation of the novel touch sensitive haptic smart watch come with two variants, and was developed by Prof. Siddhartha Panda and Mr. Vishwaraj Srivastava from the National Centre for Flexible Electronics at IIT Kanpur.
The technology licensing agreement was formally signed between IIT Kanpur and Ambrane India Pvt. Ltd. on 2nd February 2023. The MoU exchange ceremony was graced by Prof. Abhay Karandikar, Director IIT Kanpur; Prof. AR Harish, Dean R&D, IIT Kanpur; Prof. Ankush Sharma (PIC, Innovation & Incubation), Co-inventors Prof. Siddhartha Panda and Mr. Vishwaraj Srivastava from NCFlexE, IIT Kanpur; and Mr. Ashok Rajpal (Licensee & Director of Ambrane India).
Watches that are currently available for the blind and the visually impaired can be broadly classified into tactile, talking, vibration, and braille-based. These watches have their limitations – if there is a risk of needle breakage in tactile watches, talking watches do not offer a private mode of communication. Similarly, vibration watches are complicated and braille watches are expensive. This haptic watch developed at IIT Kanpur addresses the drawbacks of all the conventional technologies and offers a seamless experience to the wearer.
Upon signing the MoU, Prof. Abhay Karandikar, Director IIT Kanpur, said, “The development of the haptic smart watch for the visually impaired and the blind is a revolutionary innovation from the team of Prof. Siddhartha Panda and Mr. Vishwaraj Srivastava at NCFlexE, IIT Kanpur. We believe that this watch will make a great social impact by enabling the visually impaired and blind to make seamless use of this technology for everyday usage. The watch will soon be commercialized by Ambrane India and will be available in the market at an affordable price. This development is a testament to IIT Kanpur’s commitment to promote inclusivity through novel technology development. I’m confident that this innovation will make a great impact at the national as well as international market.”
The haptic watch developed at IIT Kanpur has 12 touch sensitive hour markers arranged over the dial face. The user is required to scan the markers with his/her fingers. For instance, to check the time of 3:40, the 3rd and 8th marker in the watch will be termed as the active markers. The vibration pulse will get generated on touching the active markers. A long pulse on 3 will indicate hours and a short pulse on 8 will indicate minutes for checking the time of 3:40.
This watch is a fusion of tactile and vibration watches. The complexity of vibration watch generating more than 20 pulses has been reduced to 2 pulses, and the fragile nature of a tactile watch is eliminated, thus resulting in a simple-to-use, private, affordable, and robust watch.
The smartwatch variant is equipped with smart features to indicate health parameters such as heart rate, step count, hydration reminder and smart timer to set short timer by using simple gesture.
The existing smartwatches for the blind and visually impaired use audio-based output and lacks privacy. The IIT Kanpur-developed smartwatch, which offers a tactile-haptic interface for display of time and health parameters, addresses these drawbacks. The use of innovative haptic icons makes it easy to navigate the menu and a simple gesture like the double-tap can open a particular health monitoring app. These numbers are communicated in a similar way as the time.
IIT Kanpur has been proactively working with an objective to develop more such technologies having societal impact especially in the assistive domain which can be transformed into a product.
Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur was established on 2nd November 1959 by an Act of Parliament. The institute has a sprawling campus spread over 1055 acres with large pool of academic and research resources spanning across 19 departments, 22 centres, and 3 Interdisciplinary programs in engineering, science, design, humanities, and management disciplines with 540 full-time faculty members and approximately 9000 students. In addition to formal undergraduate and postgraduate courses, the institute has been active in research and development in areas of value to both industry and government.