ASU team uses computer science to aid lives of the disabled
Researchers from the Center for Cognitive Ubiquitous Computing (CUbiC) at Arizona State University are using cutting-edge techniques in computer science to aid the lives of people with disabilities. In a recent article on azcentral, Sethuraman "Panch" Panchanathan, director of the center, tells of his vision for engineering technology to have a positive social impact.
“I wanted to see how the computer science and engineering expertise that I have been working on could be useful for helping humanity,” Panchanathan said. “I asked myself, ‘How do I take all that I have done and see how I can focus that on a problem that can help humanity?’”
Panchanathan's research team assembled a focus group of visually impaired individuals, their families and friends in order to determine the group's needs and how the center might address them. The project, known as iCare, resulted in a device called the Social Interaction Assistant.
“The Social Interaction project allows someone who is visually impaired to avoid awkward situations by ensuring that they are properly aligned with the person that they are speaking to,” student researcher Eric Luster said.
The device is comprised of a pair of sunglasses containing a camera that interacts with a special glove the user wears. The camera picks up visual cues that indicate emotion in people the user is talking to and sends vibration patterns to the user's glove.
In addition to fulfilling a need for disabled individuals, the iCare project allows students to gain experience in research and entrepreneurship.
Sethuraman "Panch" Panchanathan is the Senior Vice President of ASU's Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development and a professor in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.