Helping Visually Impaired Individuals “See” Emotions
A recent article published on the Science Daily website reports a new technology that could help those who are visually impaired to “see” emotions.
For his doctoral thesis at Umea University in Sweden, Shafiq ur Rehman developed a new tool that converts facial emotions into special tactile sensations for the visually impaired.
Rehman’s study is based on the idea that much of communication (up to 90%) is communicated non-verbally and that facial expressions of emotion are one of the most complex signal systems that we have as humans. Other recent studies have suggested that people also imitate other people to interpret their emotions. Because individuals who are visually impaired are not able to see facial expressions, this can create “barriers to social interactions”.
To allow visually impaired individuals to “see” emotions, Rehman and his team have developed a new technology “based on an ordinary web camera, hardware and a tactile display”. Using the webcam to capture certain facial expressions on the face, the hardware converts the emotion into a series of vibrational patters that correspond with the expressed emotion.
The project was funded by the Swedish Research Council and its main focus has been to characterize different emotions and to “find a way to present them by means of advanced biomedical engineering and computer vision technologies”.