On the 28th March, the European Innovation Finals Innovact 2012 took place in Reims, France. This is the first time that the accolade of First Place in European Innovation has been won outright by an Irish student. Kieran is currently reading for his doctorate in Machine Vision Systems and Human Machine Interfaces at CIT.
From consulting and working with visual impaired individuals through both the Irish Guide Dogs for the Blindand the National Council for the Blind Ireland, Kieran noticed that visually impaired individuals had great difficulty in navigating around doors, people, over steps and detecting obstacles in general. Kieran was greatly impressed with and energised by the need to design and develop a product to help improve the independence of the visually impaired and give them a greater level of confidence when walking.
Kieran’s developing VisionRETM device segments and classifies 3D objects/obstacles in real-time and presents the 3D information to the user in a more intuitive manner via multimodal electro-tactile, vibro-tactile and audio Human Machine Interfaces. The device identifies the presence, description and distance of objects and conveys that information to the user in a simple form. This kind of information can be used to allow the user to perform simple functions such as avoid obstacles as well as giving the user the ability to recognise their surroundings. This latter aspect of the device allows the vision impaired person to broaden their routines and be more independent.
The highly innovated Tongue Display Unit, developed by Kieran, has been designed and operates as a subject control and information system – the subject tongue effectively acts as a computer mouse, enabling the visually impaired user to select and control focus, range and breadth of determined Time of Flight vision data. The segmented visual information from the TOF camera is coded into electro-tactile pulses and presented to the user on the 64 channel electro-tactile tongue display unit designed by the author. The tongue is ideally suited to receive sensory information via electro-stimulation. The saliva in the mouth acts as an electrolyte which provides excellent electrical conductivity between the tongue and stimulator.
The Vision Research Enterprises – VisionRETM – name reflects Kieran’s main technology development/research interests, commercial applications and entrepreneurial ethos.
There are over 200,000 visual impaired individuals in Ireland, 2.5 million in the UK, 15.5 million in Europe and 15.5 million in North America (WHO Report). The global figures are extremely high and are growing annually. Kieran’s developing VisionRETM product is driven by both societal and marketplace need.