IICDC 2018 – Team 373707 – Quarterfinal Submission – Technical


Meet Radhika and Ravi. Both of them are young
kids who are very inquisitive about everything under the sun. Unfortunately, both Ravi and
Radhika are blind. Radhika is from a well-to-do family and is a voracious reader. But she
is sad because there aren’t many books available in braille and the few that are, are very
bulky, and can’t be lugged around. At the same time, Ravi’s family is not financially
stable and Ravi cannot afford school. As a result, he is denied an education and remains
braille illiterate. The story of Ravi and Radhika is that of the millions of visually
impaired, around the world. Many are too poor to afford an education and the few that can
face the crunching deficit in the variety and availability of braille books. We a group
of students from IIT Bhubaneswar came together to solve this dilemma and came with an innovative
solution, Oculus. Oculus is an inexpensive portable solution that not only helps the
visually impaired read Ebooks but also acts as a teaching aid. To make our product functional
we have used: a BeagleBone Black, a USB WiFi adapter, Neodymium magnets, and enamelled
copper wires. A BeagleBone is an open source software computer from Texas Instruments that
runs our application which sends the appropriate signals to the external hardware. It also,
communicates with the cloud. It consists of an AM3358 Sitara Processor, TPS65217 Power
Management IC, and other such ICs from TI. BeagleBone Black is better than a majority
of other portable computers due to its processing speed as well as its size. A USB WiFi adapter
is used to enhance the capabilities of the beagle bone by helping it communicate with
the servers wirelessly. Neodymium magnets are used as a vital component in the actuator
mechanism and the enameled copper wires are used to create a solenoidal magnetic field.
Oculus is made possible by integrating both software and hardware components. Our software
application lets the visually impaired communicate with Oculus via state of the art speech to
text algorithms. This entire application harnesses the power of various Google APIs for natural
language processing as well as data retrieval. For a seamless user experience, a multithreading
approach is used where many different programs are run asynchronously. Once the commands
are processed it would lead to the activation of the actuator mechanism. SO what are actuators,
you may ask. And how do they help? Well in this context, actuators are a small piece
of hardware that converts electrical signals to physical linear motion. So how are we achieving
this actuation? We have custom designed two components: a magnet holder, and a solenoidal
casing. We place four Neodymium magnets in this magnet holder thereby making the whole
structure magnetic. Then we take enameled copper windings and wrap it around this solenoidal
casing to make it into an electromagnet. When we apply an electrical signal, the electromagnet
repels this magnet holder thereby pushing it up. This sensation can be felt by the user
as a single dot of a braille character. Six such actuators comprise a braille cell. The
base and casing of the braille cell which houses six of these actuators were made from
salvaging old PVC files. And this is how Oculus came to life! Let’s now look how Oculus actually
works by demoing the software application. To read the book in Oculus, we should say
“Read” followed by the book’s name. “Read Short Stories for Children.” As you can see,
each character of the EBook is being parsed and displayed on the screen. Our software
application sends each character to the actuator mechanism where the corresponding braille
output is displayed. On this, the person is able to feel it and understand which letter
it is. To learn braille, the user would use the command “Start training”. During this,
a random alphabet is vocalized and an equivalent braille character is displayed on the braille
cell. “Start training”. “Y” *Braille character Y is displayed* “D” *Braille character D
is displayed* This brings us to the end of the demo of our MVP. As you can see, it is
fully functional. We are Oculus, and we thank you for your time.