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Leveraging Proprioception to create Assistive Technology for Users who are Blind
Computer Science and Engineering
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Assistive technology for users with visual impairments is often criticized for its high cost. Communication aids such as BrailleNote or Screenreaders typically cost thousands of dollars and with users with visual impairments suffer from much higher rates of unemployment, it puts a lot of technology out of their reach. This thesis seeks to explore developing low cost assistive technology using low cost, widely available technology. Specifically we seek to develop assistive technology by leveraging proprioception, i.e., the human ability to sense the position and orientation of their limbs without relying on vision or hearing, to appropriate the human body into a display device. For this thesis, we developed two assistive technologies based on proprioception: AUTOSEM is a bi-directional communication aid for deaf blind users which is implemented using low cost sensors and uses combinations of hand orientations in a plane which define unique manual signs that may representletters; and GIST, Gestural Interface for remote Spatial percepTion is a tool that allows blind people to perform remote spatial sensing using upper body gestures using a wearable camera.