Welcome back for my 6th blog in the "Design for a Cause - Design Challenge". So far I have Seeing EyeDuino - Blog #1 Concept explained the concept to my design, Seeing Eyeduino - Blog #2 "Robot Chassis and more" made the chassis, very proudly created the Braille finger pad SeeingEyeduino - Working Braille Finger Pad : Blog #3 , hooked up the motors to drive the robot Seeing Eyeduino - Blog #4 Motors and more and finally got a very good start on the code to run the whole project Seeing EyeDuino - Blog #5 - Robot code .
So I have run into an issue. The motors to drive the robot aren't powerful/strong enough. They run great when they are free turning but when I put the chassis on the ground the gears slip. With more weight going to be put on the chassis I will need to upgrade the motors. This isn't to big of a deal, just have to go buy them (read further down for project changes).
Now for the reasons I will be making changes. I spoke to a couple of seeing impaired with guide dogs (It was random people in the local mall). I explained to them my project and how it works and what it will do.
They both had the same concerns:
1) The robot will go where the path is clear and guide them in that direction, what if they don't want to go that way. They added that most seeing impaired aren't totally blind, they just need to have guidance but want control on where they are going. (See quote below marked "a")
2) What if they want to walk faster or slower?
3) Stairs, how will this project handle stairs?
4) Visual colour alerts or sounds would be great as well, being partially blind coloured lights would really help.
The one thing they both really liked was the braille finger pad, even though neither one read braille they thought it was quite incredible. After the visit I had with the two extremely helpful and pleasant people, I did a lot of research on seeing impaired.
Here are some facts I learned:
The definition of “legally blind” is that central visual acuity must be 20/200 or less in the better eye with the best possible correction or that the visual field must be 20 degrees or less.
We're all familiar with the image of dogs guiding people with vision loss along streets and through public spaces. But unless you've actually benefited from one of these specially trained animals, you probably have no idea what wonderful mobility tools they are.
(a) One common misconception is that people who are blind or have low vision and don't have orientation and mobility travel skills can use a guide dog to travel safely and independently; people mistakenly assume that it is the dog that shows the person where to go. This is not true. The person who is blind or has low vision directs the dog; the function and purpose of the dog is to merely guide the person around obstacles and indicate the location of steps and curbs. A guide dog can't tell if a traffic light is red or green, the user decides this.
To obtain a guide dog, you must attend a special guide dog school that will assign you a dog and train you to take care of the dog and use it to guide you. Then there are a couple of other things to consider: The high maintenance of looking after the dog & you need to use the dog as a guide constantly or they will loose their skills.
Waiting time for dog adoption is 1 to 4 years.
So with this information I will be making some changes to my project:
1) Remove the motors from my project. This will allow the operator to go where they want and at the speed they want. When they stop at a street corner, so will the EyeDuino. The sensors will alert them on dangers and obstacles but the user has the control to make the decision on where to go. This will also make it possible to navigate steps easier.
2) Add coloured lights and sound to the project for alerts.
3) Change a lot of the coding I created to accommodate the updated design.
These changes will be well worth it, I want to create something that is useful for anyone to use, not a hindrance.
Next blog will contain the changes and updated design