Arjun Kalburgi to the right of a sharp leaf

learning, finding, designing, developing impact

Building for People: BlindGlasses

July 19, 2017

Building for people requires Design as much as Development.

The following is a writeup for HackTheNorth2017 application, answering the question — what recent project are you most proud of.

I love creating great experiences, this can take a lot of shapes as there are a lot of ways to go about it. Over the last year my interest has really focused on UX, how can I use technology to make people’s experience better?

This last March my friend Harry and I went to nwHacks with the plan to make sunglasses that gave visual context for the blind. The glasses would be equipped with a camera connected to a Pi, and would read out the contents of the photo to the wearer using recognition APIs from Google and Microsoft, as well as a neural net we made on IBM Watson.

Our project was a huge hit, we won third at the competition and a lot of participants approached us saying they thought we should have gotten first or second. Many people loved that we were doing something for the disabled community and many more were impressed with the way we combined together multiple API responses to be read to the user (and honestly it was so difficult).

At nwHacks, Harry wearing the glasses At nwHacks, Harry wearing the glasses

But to me the best part of our hack was the design of the glasses. We embedded the camera in the plastic of the sunglasses and used a touch sensor instead of a button for picture taking. These choices helped make the wearable extremely minimal, with even the wires tucked behind the wearers ear.

Looking at comparable glasses online, they’re all extremely large and weird-looking. Our glasses were designed to look normal and would hopefully help it’s wearer feel more comfortable. As one who loves to create great experiences, this is what made me the most proud. Hopefully I’ll get to work on more projects like this in the future.

Links: Devpost, Github