“Brilliantly simple, with the potential to enrich the lives of so many under-served children.” —Troy Lachance
“How could you not like this one? It’s a crazy creative way to help the visually challenged learn. And on top of that, it’s beautifully executed.” —Dustin Callif
Overview: Of the 39 million blind people in the world, only a select few know the joy of reading. Many children find braille hard to pick up, because they’re not able to link mental pictures to the words they learn. Fittle is an interactive toy that helps blind children perceive shapes of objects while learning braille and the spelling of words. For example, the word “fish” is constructed by joining together four puzzle blocks that have the letters F-I-S-H on them, each embossed in braille. When the child fits the pieces together, he or she can read the word “fish” and feel the contours of the completed puzzle to understand what the form of a fish is.
• Fittle uses a graded curriculum created with input from experienced educators at the LV Prasad Eye Institute in India.
• The Fittle app plays a unique sound for each puzzle (the fish is accompanied by the sound of waves and bubbles) when the completed puzzle is photographed with a smartphone camera or webcam.
• The sound interaction was programmed in Visual C++ using SURF Detection technology, which extracts surface features from puzzles when they are held in front of a camera.
Comments by Tania Jain:
How will the project develop in the future? “National Association for the Blind, India, is partnering with us to implement Fittle in the curriculum for blind children in more than 80 centers where they will be setting up 3-D printers. 3-D HUBS, a worldwide 3-D printing network, has expressed interest in helping us print Fittle models for schools for the blind in various parts of the world.”
Did you learn anything new during the process? “Before working on Fittle, we had little knowledge of the challenges faced by visually impaired people on a daily basis. We had not come in close contact with people who couldn’t see, and it was a great experience to learn how they tackle challenges and how they perceive the world.”
What was the most challenging aspect of the project? “Finding that perfect point between realism and abstraction; the right amount of information a visually impaired child needs to be given in order to form a rich visual association with a word. Since we are dealing with people who cannot see, it is very important to put ourselves in their shoes to design rich experiences for them.”