A garment that can act as a communicative interface for deafblind people
This is the expected result of a unique and innovative EU project scheduled to start in early 2018. The University of Borås, Sweden coordinates the project with universities and companies from seven different countries. The project takes place within the framework of Horizon2020, EU’s so far largest research and innovation programme.
The deafblind are a group in society dependent on other people such as family members or assistants to sense the world. Now, researchers in the EU project SUITCEYES will develop a prototype made from smart textiles to provide the deafblind with new communication opportunities.
Nasrine Olson, project coordinator and senior lecturer at the Swedish School of Library and Information Science:
“By using sensors and other technologies, the garment will take in information about what happens around the person. This will enable linguistic communication, and it will also enhance learning as well as add something fun for the bearer”
Garments communicating through haptic language
One idea is that the garments transfer information to the bearers through haptic language, i.e. a language of touch and movements, and can for example tell the bearers if someone is looking at them or where the ball they dropped is in the room. But it is also possible to combine different sensors in the smart textile. Each sensor addresses different perceptive channels, which enlarges the communication space.
Nils-Krister Persson, docent and research leader of Smart Textiles at the University of Borås:
“Smart textiles are perfect to use when we develop the interface, as our body is constantly in contact with textiles. It’s more or less just in the shower that it isn’t”
Another important aspect of the communicative garments is Gamification. Playful elements are integrated into the system, to achieve a more cheerful character for the bearer.