IIT Madras researchers enhance wearable assistive devices for hearing impaired with latest tech

These wearable sensors will include latest sensor technologies used in the Inter- net of Things. Sony Pictures Networks India (SPNI) is supporting these projects at IIT Madras through its CSR initiatives.

A school student with the iGest device

Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras researchers are enhancing already-developed wearable devices with latest technologies that will assist people with hearing impairment and motor disabilities to communicate independently and enhance their quality of life. These wearable sensors will include latest sensor technologies used in the Inter- net of Things. Sony Pictures Networks India (SPNI) is supporting these projects at IIT Madras through its CSR initiatives. The devices are being developed by the Centre for Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology (CREATE), a multidisciplinary translational research and educational initiative of IIT Madras.

Highlighting the need for indigenous development of assistive devices, Anil Prabhakar, head, CREATE-IIT Madras, and faculty, department of electrical engineering, IIT Madras, said, “The cost of the product is kept low and to be less than `5,000 so that it is an affordable device for its basic functionality. The advance of technology and the advent and availability of low-cost micro controllers and sensors allows us to come up with this unique low-cost device.”

The two major projects being developed by CREATE are ‘Vibe’ and iGest’ for the hearing impaired and for persons with motor disabilities, respectively. Both devices are embedded systems that will bring the latest developments from IoT and ML to wearable assistive devices. Such wearable devices will have rechargeable batteries and communicate with a mobile phone over Bluetooth.

Vibe is a wearable device that vibrates for acoustic sounds around a person with hearing impairment. It features a multitude of sound patterns that are recognised using a microphone and voice recognition modules. Vibe will alert the hearing impaired on specific sound such as a doorbell, alarm, or a crying child. It will be compact and wearable as a watch.

iGest will function as an alternative and augmentative communication device for persons with cerebral palsy. It will recognise the gestures of those with limited motor skills and convert them into audio output through a smartphone.

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