HandSight: A Glove for the Blind to Feel Shapes and Navigate Obstacles

Picture of HandSight: A Glove for the Blind to Feel Shapes and Navigate Obstacles

HandSight is a prototype glove to aid the blind. It can sense the lightness or darkness of a surface with tactile feedback from a vibration motor for each individual finger. It can also sense distance from physical objects or obstructions and indicate direction and distance with the same vibration feedback. It supports additional modes, and the possibilities are nearly endless. The glove can connect over Bluetooth to switch modes and visualize the sensor readings.

This instructable was made as part of the final project requirement in the CS graduate course "Tangible Interactive Computing" at the University of Maryland, College Park taught by Professor Jon Froehlich. The course focused on exploring the materiality of interactive computing and, in the words of Hiroshii Ishii, sought to "seamlessly couple the dual worlds of bits and atoms." Please see for more details.

See our Wiki class page for the project here (where we talk about some of our challenges and limitations):

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Step 1: List of Materials

- Arduino Pro Mini-328 (5v, 3.3v may work but not tested) (x1)
- IR Reflectance Sensor - QRE1113 (x4)
- Vibration Motor ROB-08449 (x4)
- Ultrasonic Range Finder (x2)
- Bluetooth Mate Silver WRL-10393 (x1)
- 68 ohm Resistor (x1)
- 9v Battery and Battery Case with Switch (x1)
- FTDI cable (for programming) (x1)
- Double Sided Sticky Tape, or other adhesive to hold the ultrasonic sensors in place
- Wire, electrical tape, and soldering materials. Rainbow ribbon cable is recommended for easy wiring of the fingertip sensors.
- Glove that you don’t mind repurposing permanently
- Extra cloth that matches the glove
- Velcro, Sewing Materials
- Windows Phone to run our visualization and control app, or any device that supports the Bluetooth Serial Port Protocol (SPP) if you want to develop your own app

All electronic components available on sparkfun unless otherwise noted
john19991 month ago

can anyone provide me the IC number

ansab1 month ago
Thank you very much for replying but I still did not find the app. All I can see are codes. Can you tell me the name and exact location of the app. Kindly can you please give us more information about the spp part, we did not understand that part.
lstearns86 (author)  ansab1 month ago
There is no stand alone app, just the code. In order to use it you will need a Microsoft developer account and Visual Studio installed to deploy the app. However, the Bluetooth control protocol is very simple (see the last step in the Instructable), so you could build your own app for another platform fairly easily.
ansab1 month ago

Please tell if we need to download any app or any code in the windows phone.

Please reply fast .I will be very thankful if you do

lstearns86 (author)  ansab1 month ago
Both the code for the arduino and the Windows Phone app are available on our github page linked to near the end of the instructable. Here's the link: The Windows Phone code is within the handsight folder.

The app is very simple, just a few buttons to control the arduino mode and some visual feedback for the values returned by the reflectance sensors. The only marginally complicated thing we did was set up the Bluetooth communication over the Bluetooth Serial Port Profile (SPP), which wasn't immediately obvious in the Windows Phone APIs at the time.

Let me know if you have any questions, although it's been quite awhile since I developed the app.
ansab1 month ago

where is the app for wimdows phone.......

plz answer fast......

ansab1 month ago

where is the app for wimdows phone.......

plz answer fast......

ansab1 month ago

where is the app for wimdows phone.......

plz answer fast......

marckivan4 months ago

Hello there!! you guys did an amazing job there by constructing that device. I'm just wondering if the device can sense drop-offs (like stairs or pitfalls)

Patuko7 months ago

Oh man, you guys rock so hard :D

I was wondering to build a project similar like this and i'm seeing really hard work here about it! :D Really nice.

Did you guys have iterate on it?

Will really want to know if you have been testing it on over this year and if you can "sense" images better.

Thank you so much!

lstearns86 (author)  Patuko7 months ago

Thank you for your comments and for your interest in our project!

We haven't iterated on this particular design (it was for a class project), but we are working on other related ideas. One thought we had was to increase the resolution of what the fingers could "see" by using a small camera like those found in optical mice or even ones used for medical purposes. There is a lot of room for innovation in this field, so I hope that you'll feel inspired to try your own designs.

Patuko lstearns867 months ago
That's a nice idea, like having analog camera feed converted to vibes(processed data to different vibes)? Or just changind de ir sensors to a laser sensor?

The awesomedary thing of this haptic devices is that I think that if a children learns to use it, maybe with years of practice they are able to actually "see" throught that.

In Spain theres a famous case of a daltonic person that can't see colors and uses a ir device that launches a freq. sound for each color in front of it (its also analog because he can "sense" the enviromnt general color when its measure at a distance)
The incredible thing of this is that he actually says that hes brain has begin(fourth year of use) to make colors appear!
This case went famous because he wanted to had that device implanted on his body to always had it on so noone could say to him to wear it off.
Thanks for answering :D
HighWing1 year ago
I've been thinking about making this myself and I thought I read somewhere that you had initally wanted to make it as a head mount but realized that the vibration motors on the head were a bad idea. Which is why you made them into a glove. However, I've used many glove devices for VR simulators and such, and I find that holding your hands out becomes tiresome pretty quickly.

So I was wondering about modifing your design to still put the dectors on a hat/headband, but move the motors to something you ware on a belt clip or somewhere else?

lstearns86 (author)  HighWing1 year ago
This is an interesting idea, and certainly feasible. Our original plan was actually to make a belt with the vibration motors sewn into the fabric, and the ultrasonic sensors placed at different angles around it. When we started focusing more on the tactile surface feedback via the reflectance sensors we decided it made more sense to put everything on the hand instead. I don't see any reason why you couldn't put the sensors and feedback mechanism in different places, especially if you're only interested in the navigation portion.

One of our early inspirations was the idea of a haptic compass like the one described here: It uses multiple vibration motors to indicate direction, and can either point north or toward an arbitrary compass direction for guidance. It wouldn't be too hard to modify that idea to give feedback from the ultrasonic distance sensors instead (or as well).

If you want to put the sensors on the head, you could use long wires as long as their resistance isn't too high. An alternative would be to build a second arduino device and have them communicate over Bluetooth.
huntjulien2 years ago
crazy cool. you guys are amazing