PhD Research: Erasable Tactile Doodling - Toodleoo
Location: India, United Kingdom
In this project, we are pushing the boundaries of tactile display technologies by designing a new way to produce erasable tactile drawings and graphics to present and create visualisations for blind and partially sighted students and professionals. The project uses smart materials and research on ways to make them operational for this application. The final output will be particularly useful to understand STEM subjects and to express and communicate ideas and creativity.
The research is led by Tigmanshu a PhD student at Global Disability Innovation Hub and the UCL Interaction Centre, supported by the Overseas Research Scholarship and the Graduate Research Scholarship.
Drawing as a medium is crucial to communicate ideas and to enhance learning and retention, obtainable for blind and partially sighted people through the tactile medium. One crucial part of this learning process is learning from mistakes. Traditional tactile solutions are difficult to remove, erase or edit. Mechanisms to produce tactile graphics include swell paper, thermoforming, embossing on Braille paper, 3D printing - but these tactile graphics are static, non-refreshable and deteriorate with use. An erasable tactile drawing display can solve these challenges, and improve learning and education outcomes, thereby increasing access and reducing barriers.
Toodleoo is a new and exciting erasable tactile drawing interface for blind and partially sighted students and professionals. Its display is made from a single sheet of a smart material on which, we have created a reconfigurable array of tactile pixels that can create a tactile effect. A unique pen allows users to intuitively draw tactile shapes on this smart material and whatever is drawn can be completely erased. This new Assistive Educational Technology is currently being optimised and tested.
GDI Hub Academic Research Centre provides the philosophy behind the development of this device, taking a global approach to design, with the aim of creating a low cost and reusable solution that can reach a wider number of people.
The project has also received funding from the first cohort of UCL-IITD Strategic Partnership Seed Fund and includes researchers from IIT Delhi to develop applications for this unique interface.