Netra – Special ultrasonic ‘eyes’ for the visually impaired, inspired by bats
A few days ago, we talked about an Indian’s amateur DIY project for creating the Braille Smartphone. And, now another Indian has done his country proud by creating the Netra, special ultrasonic ‘eyes’ for the visually impaired. Dhaval Malaviya, who hails from the city of Surat, Gujarat (in Western India), had his fair share of blockbuster Hollywood movies, ranging from the science fiction to the super hero genre. Interestingly, his ingenious notion of crafting a specialized equipment for the blind was inspired by the bio-sonar technique of bats. Scientifically known as Echolocation, the unique navigation pattern entails the emission of sound and its echo coming back from the obstacles ahead. This allows the bat to comprehend its obstacle and likewise traverse its path.
As for the Netra (which is Sanskrit for eye), the contrivance utilizes the very same Echolocation principle. The components of the device comprise of – an Arduino micro-controller, an ultrasonic sensor (Ping variety) and a vibrating motor. The micro-controller gauges the distance of the object ahead by reading the time flight of the ultrasonic waves emanated by the sensor. This magnitude of distance instigates the controller to regulate the vibrating pattern of the aforementioned motor. So basically, if the distance is more, the corresponding vibration is less; and if the distance is less, the corresponding vibration is more.
The Netra was developed as a project for the designer’s sophomore year under-graduate engineering studies. And, for those are interested in pursuing it as a DIY endeavor, Malaviya has also published his schematic and codes for the conscientious project.