Startup@IITD :: TouchVisionTech

TouchVisionTech (Anaavaran Technologies Private Limited) aims at digital inclusion for the 253 million persons with visual impairment globally. Their product TouchVision enables affordable interactive access to diagrams for visually impaired in audio tactile form using image processing. The multisensory inclusive education platform comprises of tactile diagrams –books, recreational material, storybooks and games assisted by simultaneous audios powered by the mobile app. The patent filed mechanism allows user to interact with tactile material simultaneously which helps in enhancing the understanding of the concept depicted in the tactile diagram and eventually aids in perception development. The know how was developed under Centre of Excellence in Tactile Graphics, IIT Delhi funded by Ministry of Electronics and IT.

In an interaction with Dr Vanita Srivastava, TouchVisionTech Founder Ms Ankita Gulati talks about her startup journey, the challenges and more.

1. How and when did you get the idea for your startup?

 

I started working on the audio tactile based interactive graphics for visually impaired during my M. Tech thesis with Prof. M. Balakrishnan in 2015. I started visiting different blind schools and organizations for need/problem finding. During one of these visits, I observed that during a geography class at a special school, the special educator was trying to teach about Indian states using a single handmade tactile map for 25 students. The map was being rotated among students and the teacher was giving verbal description. Clearly, students were not able to understand and comprehend. Teachers listed out various challenges and how students are not encouraged to study science and math beyond 8th standard. They explained that students are taught using handmade diagrams in special schools and once they are integrated into inclusive schools, the diagrams are excluded from the curriculum. This hinders their inclusion in education ecosystem and eventually limits employment opportunities. So we decided to develop a solution for making diagrams accessible in an interactive manner.

 

2. What were the major challenges?

 

Affordability is the main challenge as 90% of visually impaired people live in low income settings. The multisensory interactive solutions available in international market start from 595$. Thus, their dissemination in India and other development countries is almost negligible. Another challenge is catering to various degrees of visual impairment. The products should cater to blind as well as persons with varying degrees of visual impairment. The device has been designed with tactual and auditory modalities as the inputs and user trials have inferred that addition of visual cues can help in enhancing understanding for people with visual impairment. This is especially vital in the early intervention stages.

 

3. Can you elucidate a bit on the underlying technology?

 

The multisensory inclusive education platform comprises of tactile diagrams – books, recreational material, storybooks and games assisted by simultaneous audios powered by the mobile app. The patent filed mechanism allows user to interact with tactile material simultaneously which helps in enhancing the understanding of the concept depicted in the tactile diagram and eventually aids in perception development. The know how was developed under Centre of Excellence in Tactile Graphics, IIT Delhi funded by Ministry of Electronics and IT.

 

4. What is the future roadmap?

 

TouchVision offers 10 X price advantage over similar products in global market. The objective is to commercialize this product to reach a large number of visually impaired users to create social impact and speed up their inclusion in education ecosystem to have equal employment opportunities, and thus helping in social inclusion. This can be an enabler for them in all aspects of life as it can assist them in education (Picture accessibility, curriculum access, and examination), skill development (enhanced understanding of concepts and eventually better perception development) and provide access to existing and new content, recreational activities and games.