Special display screens convey "Braille" images that tell what expressions are being made.
Visually impaired can ‘see’ emotions.
Technology using an ordinary web camera, hardware the size of a coin and a tactile display enables visually impaired persons to directly interpret human emotions. This "Braille code of emotions" was developed in Sweden by Shafiq ur Réhman at Umeå University.
Interpreting facial expressions "gives new opportunities for social interactions for the visually impaired,” said Réhman.
Visual information is transferred from the camera into vibrating patterns displayed on the skin. The vibrators are sequentially activated to provide dynamic information about what kind of emotion a person is expressing and the intensity of the emotion.
The user first learns patterns of different facial expressions that have been translated into vibrational patterns. The visually impaired person has a tactile display mounted on the back of a chair, or when interacting with other people, a sling on the forearm can be used.
Founded by the Swedish Research Council, the research group’s spinoff company, Videoakt AB, has been granted a patent and a product will soon appear on the market. Tactile feedback is also interesting in other areas as a future communication tool, for seeing people as well.
“We have successfully demonstrated how the technology can be implemented on mobile phones for tactile rendering of live football games and human emotion information through vibrations. This is an interesting way to enhance the experience of mobile users,” added Réhman.