Users and applications
Formal description
Use in data structures
Architectural roots
Making pointers safer
Simulation using an array index
Project partners & contact details
The GRAB project has allowed the development of a new Haptic & Audio Virtual Environment to allow blind and visually impaired persons to have access to the three-dimensional graphic computer world through the senses of touch and hearing.
      grab user with haptica interface and screen
The new GRAB system allows its user to interact and explore 3D virtual objects both with the thumb and the index fingertips and with both index fingertips while moving the hands in a desktop workspace. As the user moves their fingers over the virtual object, thanks to a new 3D force-feedback Haptic Interface, he feels contact forces at the fingertips and can recognise its geometric features (such as corners, surface edges, curvature) and distances and spatial relationships between elements. During the haptic exploration, the user can also listen to audio messages and execute verbal and keyboard commands. The operator screen renders the virtual scene and what the user is doing at each moment (position of the user's fingers, movement of any object,.).
This environment provides a platform for the development of applications in different fields (architecture, art, aeronautics, medicine,..).  During the GRAB project three specific applications for blind and visually impaired were developed:
A searching and adventurous game (one of the applications most demanded by the users) à the user must move himself inside of a building to find a treasure. Each floor has several rooms with different prizes, dangers and difficulties.
A chart data explorer à to allow visually impaired people to access, read and manipulate financial (or other) data with the sense of touch and audio helps. The application imports directly the information from Excel files.
A city-map explorer à to provide blind and visually impaired people with an orientation tool to prepare and learns journeys at a city. The maps are imported from GIS representations
Although it is a non-tangible result, other important achievement has been the improvement in the understanding of the interaction process of blind and visually impaired people with haptic environments. This will be very useful for the development of future applications in this field.