Tablet lets vision-impaired build a picture in their mind

April 29, 2011
GraVVITAS Tablet

GraVVITAS: Graphics Viewer using Vibration, Interactive Touch, Audio and Speech (credit: Monash University IT)

GraVVITAS, a PC tablet that uses vibration and sounds to guide a visually impaired user around a diagram, has been developed by engineers at Monash University’s Faculty of Information Technology.

Designed to enable the user to build a picture of the entire graphic in their mind, the prototype has small external vibrating motors that attach to the user’s fingers.

These motors buzz when the user touches an object on the screen. Voice prompts and sounds also help to guide the user to “viewing” the diagram.


GraVVITAS graphics rely on vibration and sound (credit: Monash University IT)

Currently, visually impaired students are limited to raised shapes and textures are produced embossers on special paper, an extremely costly process that can take months to produce a textbook.

The new device has received extensive testing from visually impaired volunteers. The engineers want to try to increase accessibility to diagrams and graphics in educational material, which is a huge issue for the visually impaired.