The ‘Feel the view’ car window by Aedo translates landscapes onto a tactile display and lets blind people enjoy the journey

The idea stems from the wish to let everybody, including the visually impaired, enjoy beautiful landscapes when travelling by car. It seems impossible, yet this system has been developed by Aedo, an Italian start-up specialized in devices for the disabled, and Ford.

The name of the project is Feel the View, which illustrates the concept: blind passengers have the feeling of ‘seeing’ the landscape by means of two alternative senses, touch and hearing. This system is able to decode the landscape by reproducing it on a tactile display through stimuli that can be perceived using the other two senses. With Feel The View it is possible to develop a new haptic visual language that allows the visually impaired to decode what surrounds them.

The process starts from a photograph of the landscape around the car. The picture is turned by the integrated software into a high-contrast grayscale image and reproduced on the glass thanks to special LEDs. By touching the image, Feel The View generates, in that point, a feedback consisting in vibrations of 255 intensities: the whiter the color under the fingertips, the greater the intensity of vibration. In this way, exploring the whole window, passengers can imagine and rebuild in their mind the surrounding landscape.

To implement the prototype, some associations for the blind and visually impaired such as Views International and Unione Italiana dei Ciechi e degli Ipovedenti were involved and the wishes of people were listened to; while, in the design stage, they tried to better interpret their impressions, elaborating the reactions to the use of the new technology, in order to arrive to a definitive prototype in line with their needs.

[Valentina Dalla Costa]