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American University of Sharjah students win this year’s James Dyson Award UAE edition

American University of Sharjah students win this year’s James Dyson Award UAE edition

Touch smart ring identifies colour of clothing or can read the small text on a label

An invention by two American University of Sharjah students that can help people with visual impairments identify colours has won this year’s James Dyson Award, UAE edition.

Touch is a smart ring that can identify the colour of clothing or read the small text on a label for a grocery item. The ring vibrates, lights up or communicates with the user through audio speech via a Bluetooth earphone.

The aim is to helps the visually impaired take control of some of the basic daily functions of their lives including being able to choose the colour of clothes they pick from a wardrobe or identify supplies such as vegetables at the grocery store.

The user holds the ring to the piece of clothing for two seconds to allow it to detect the colour and read it back to the user. If multiple colours are found the user can slowly move the ring across the clothing to allow it to scan the colours and read them back. Double-tapping and holding the ring switches it to reading mode and they will then be slowly prompted to move the ring slowly across the text as the words are read back to them.

Winning the national leg of the James Dyson Award will inject Dhs9,500 into the Touch project, paving the way for the two inventors to create a working prototype of the device. Eventually, they plan to expand with a range of complementary accessories for the smart ring to include necklaces, bracelets, cufflinks, and more.

“Winning the James Dyson Award has given us the encouragement to fully develop the Touch smart ring,” said Nada Aldash, one of the inventors. “It’s amazing to think that from our initial brainstorm and our discussions about how colour is perceived by people with visual impairments that we were able to create a needed solution. We are still in the early phases regarding the future direction of the device, but from our discussions with future users we now understand that there is huge potential for a simple smart ring that is comfortable to wear, and adds another dimension to their experience.”

Touch, along with two UAE runners up, will progress to the international stage of the James Dyson Award. The International prizes will be announced on November 19, 2020.

According to the World Health Organisation, more than 2.2 billion people around the world are estimated to suffer from vision impairment or blindness. Of these, 1 billion have moderate or severe distance vision impairment or blindness as well as near vision impairment.

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