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dbGLOVE: SMARTPHONES AND TABLETS FOR THE DEAF AND BLIND
The idea of harnessing technology to serve the disabled arose quite by chance.
The product that evolved was an interactive glove which enables the deaf-blind to use smartphones, tablets and PCs: a technological world largely inaccessible to them until now.
This is the ingenious concept behind dbGLOVE, an ultra-sophisticated glove developed by Qiris, a Bari company established in 2008.
The business has since spawned Upgraid: a new start-up specialising in the development of hardware and software technologies to support people with varying disabilities, especially those with sensory impairments.
Generally speaking, the firm designs and develops wearable interactive devices, based on web and mobile technologies, which help support blind, deaf and deaf-blind people in their daily lives, promoting independence, autonomy and social inclusion.
This was the context in which dbGLOVE was conceived: an interactive glove which, once connected to a smartphone, allows the blind and deaf-blind to interact and communicate with others. dbGLOVE is coupled with plug-ins, applications and services: designed to satisfy the needs of individual consumers, centres for the disabled and schools for people with special needs. In practice, once the glove is put onto the left hand, it transforms the fingers into a sort of keyboard, allowing even the deaf-blind to make use of tablets and smartphones.
The dbGLOVE interacts in a two-way fashion, enabling communication by means of the Malossi language: an intuitive, tactile alphabet developed by a deaf-blind Italian, very simple to use (especially by children) and considered more efficient than Braille.
By this method, a deaf-blind person can compose words with his hand, either by making various movements or by pinching his fingers.
The sensors inside the glove generate impulses which then, thanks to a Bluetooth connection, appear as letters on the screen. In addition, the glove increases the person’s tactile sensitivity, transmitting his movements to the particular device and allowing him to perform a variety of operations: send email, surf the web, or make use of apps in an Android-based ecosystem.
Therefore, the dbGLOVE acts as both a keyboard and a tactile monitor: the person wearing it can write messages on his palm, rather like typing, and the impulse is received, processed and sent off, either as a command or as a message to be displayed.
As a tactile monitor, the dbGLOVE allows the wearer to receive messages through tactile stimulation at different intensities and frequencies, just as if another person was writing on his hand using the Malossi language. And then again, the wearer of the glove can write on his hand and the message shown on the screen of the smartphone or tablet can be read by anyone unversed in Malossi, or vice-versa.