Georgia Institute of Technology Showcases ‘Smart Gloves’ that Aid the Visually Impaired in Learning Braille
A person reading a Braille book with two fingers.Wikimedia Commons

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have developed the prototype of a pair of 'smart gloves' using which people (with or without visual impairments) can master Braille.

'Smart gloves' lets people learn Braille even when they are engrossed in other activities.

These gloves come with tiny vibrating motors that fit on users' knuckles, and buzz in different sequences corresponding to a particular Braille pattern.

"We've learned that people can acquire motor skills through vibrations without devoting active attention to their hands," stated Thad Starner, a professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

To test how well high-tech gloves worked, researchers conducted a study in which volunteers were asked to wear the 'smart gloves' with the vibrating motor strapped to their knuckles, within the gloves.

The participants were asked to engage in a game for 30 minutes, and were instructed to concentrate only on the game rather than think about the gloves. However, they were able to feel the vibrating motor buzz and get audio cues (Audio cues enable users to understand Braille letters), whenever the gloves encountered a Braille pattern/phrase.

After the time limit, participants were asked to type the phrase/Braille letters without the gloves on.

Researchers found out that most of the volunteers could type the phrases 'almost accurately.' People with no prior working knowledge of Braille could randomly reproduce phrases and even recognise specific Braille alphabets.

"Remarkably, we found that people could transfer knowledge learned from typing Braille to reading Braille," said Ph.D student Catilyn Seim who collaborated with Thad Starner on the study.

However, the 'smart gloves' prototype is still under test, and is certain to undergo more trials and tests before it is officially launched for the public. Commercial aspects such as pricing details of these gloves are also unknown, but a competitive pricing cannot be ruled out.

'Smart gloves' is not the only innovation to have come out from the Georgia Institute of Technology. The University had earlier brought out 'Piano Touch,' a pair of gloves which enabled people to learn to play the piano.