Innovation for Independence

Voice controlled assistive system for visually impaired users

Publish date:
16/01/2015 - 1:12pm
Last updated:
16/01/2015 - 1:13pm
James Miles

A voice-controlled assistive system offering visually impaired users an intuitive and unified way of controlling home appliances/utilities and communicating with friends/family, with one simple form of interaction, to be used in and out of the home. The system will utilise mobile and voice recognition technology. It’s original in that although it uses existing technologies, the user is able to employ the device to control objects inside and out of the home, and communicate with friends and family, using simple voice commands. This improves on existing assistive technology devices which require the user to be within range of the device. The system will interact with a number of ‘smart’ technologies (e.g. lighting, wireless remote control plug sockets, thermostats, televisions), allowing the user independence and control within their own home (reducing reliance on family/carers). The system will be based around two-way communication, providing audio and/or visual feedback to the user, allowing a more intuitive and intelligent experience. The system, via the ‘Internet of Things’, will seamlessly integrate into the user’s home and lifestyle, avoiding the need to install conspicuous/imposing equipment. Further, the result will also be attractive to all, reducing stigma traditionally associated with assistive technology, and widening the potential market.

Insight & Impact

The idea is led by the Innovation, Design & Technology Unit (IDTU) at the Centre for Technology Enabled Health Research, Coventry University. IDTU works with industry, designers, health/social care staff, voluntary organisations, researchers, and consumers/users of all ages to drive market change in digitally-enabled mainstream technologies to empower people to improve their own health and well-being. IDTU engages with older people, disabled people and those with long-term conditions in the inclusive design of technology through creative methodologies. IDTU is collaborating with Thomas Pocklington Trust – a charity committed to increasing awareness and understanding of the needs of people with sight loss. Pocklington is recognised for its research on housing design, lighting and assistive and inclusive technology in and around the home. With Pocklington’s networks of visually impaired people, and IDTU’s experience of developing solutions with disabled people, the system will be co-created with the very people it’s aimed at supporting. The outcome will have maximum potential to provide a modern, desirable, intuitive way for people with sight loss to interact with and control their environment, enabling them to live independently and increase their ease of communication with loved ones, thus improving quality of life.

Skills needed for this project

  • Software development
  • Electronic prototyping
  • Refined prototyping with wider range of materials and processes if required.