Innovation for differently-abled
Empowering differently-abled people plays a significant role in creating an inclusive society. This very thought inspired individuals like Louie Braille in the year 1809, to invent the Braille system. The year 2009 marks the 200th year of this great innovation by Braille. At this landmark Bangalore student Vishak Hegde has designed a gaming device for blind people to play Tic-Tac-Toe. Apart from providing entertainment, this innovation also helps in observing changes in their behavior and mental ability.
Instead of traditional X and O’s that are used to design the Tic-Tac-Toc, Vishak has designed it using two types of pawns which they can touch, feel and identify. This game box consists of a simple circuit as the baseboard. The circuit has gaps and is bridged appropriately so that the pawns are inserted. The circuit works electro mechanically, which has no complex logic circuits involved with it. By keeping the hardware design very simple, this device can be manufactured at a very affordable price. This according to Vishak is the main value addition to the innovation.
On explaining the rationale behind this innovation, Vishak says “I recognized the disability of visually challenged to play normal Tic-Tac-Toe and have been experimenting with various designs. In the latest prototype, after going through 6 iterations I was able to bring down the difficulty blind people faced by innovating in the design”. Along with the device an instruction manual has been provided in Braille and English to enable them to play independently.
This device was tested by schools for visually challenged students who noticed an improvement in the confidence level and mental strength of the students. According to the teachers, the device has improved their alertness, enthusiasm, memory, finger dexterity, eye-hand and ear-hand coordination. This innovation was selected for Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) for the year 2008 and Vishak represented India at the conference held at Georgia, Atlanta.
Looking into the future Vishak says “I already have a provisional patent and I aspire to have the complete patent. The device can be commercialised and sold on whole sale”. Vishak is also aiming to donate this instrument to different NGOs working for the visually challenged.