HaptoTech.

HaptoTech is an innovative open-source project created by Alexander Wulff.
HaptoTech devices are designed to assist the visually impaired in navigating our world. They are a variety of small wearable devices that provide haptic feedback via subtle vibrations to alert the wearer of close objects.

Photos

Below you can view some pictures of various HaptoTech models. Keep in mind that these are early development models, and not intended for any kind of public release. Most late models and cases are not pictured.

A late-model HaptoTech Tiny Device (HTTiny2)

Breadboarding and testing a HaptoTech Pin 3v

The HaptoTech Wrist model without its 3d-printed case.

A front view of the very flat HaptoTech Wrist model.

A late HaptoTech Pin model with an integrated battery. This model is perfectly suited to fit in a hat.

A HaptoTech Pin in its 3d-printed case. As you can tell from the ruler for scale, it’s pretty small.

An early HaptoTech Pin model that runs at a 5v operating level, needing a boost regulator.

The first small HaptoTech Pin model.

The very first non-prototype HaptoTech pin.

An improved HaptoTech Pin prototype model, with an Ultrasonic sensor instead of an IR sensor and a Pro Trinket instead of a Trinket.

The first HaptoTech Pin prototype model.

This is the very first prototype I made. It was designed to demonstrate and convey my idea to others, as well as serve as a basis to improve upon.

How to Make A HaptoTech Device

device schematic

If you've had some experience with Arduino and through-hole soldering this process should be fairly easy. We'll be making a HTTiny2 device.


Check out the PCB design for this device at 123D Circuits. The parts you'll need are listed here. Next you'll need to order some PCBs from this model. I recommend using OSH Park. Once your PCBs arrive (should take about two weeks) you can solder all the components in place. It's all really simple soldering. Now you'll need to program your DIP Attiny85 with the HTTiny2.ino file from Github. There's a great tutorial on Instructables that shows you how to do this. It requires a 10 uF capacitor and an Arduino Uno or similar microcontroller.

The Design Process

The one word to describe working on this project is fun. This project was originally created for my local science fair here in Syracuse, New York, but it has morphed into so much more. When I created the idea while brainstorming an interesting to enter into the science fair, I knew it would be something that has the potential to change people’s lives.
If you look at my the glove-like model in the photos, you can see how far HaptoTech has come. Originally, I really wanted to call the devices ArduSight, but my parents convinced me otherwise. Granted, it has a ring to it, but HaptoTech has a little more zest than ArduSight. My first concept that I wrote down in my log book was remarkably different than what I have currently. I first envisioned one central controller, with a series of sensors running from it. This is good because you can power the central controller with one large battery. However, this model has some issues, the main being wires. To allow this to happen, wires need to run from the sensors back to the controller, which are prone to breaking and can restrict moment. Wireless transceivers are also an option, but these are usually bulky and guzzle precious battery power. After trying this in a beanie, I realized that if I could create many small, autonomous sensors then that would be the better option of the two. I soon started creating very crude pin prototypes, then refining them further, until I had created the family of small devices that I have today.
While this whole process was happening, I realized that my devices needed a case. The case wouldn’t be so much for protection (the bare sensors and boards are surprisingly resilient) as aesthetics. I frequently sacrificed size and functionality for beauty while building my HaptoTech models. A seething mass of hot glue and wires isn’t exactly something you want to pin on your jacket, so a nice tidy white case is a very simple and viable option. My high school is fortunate enough to have a 3D printer that the students can use. This enabled me to really create any case imaginable for my models to sit in, so I could really make the cases fit like a glove. My first case was essentially a box with some holes, just as a proof of concept. From there I further refined them until I had a self contained unit that could fit a battery and a HaptoTech Pin, but is still small enough to put anywhere you want. After this, I started integrating the batteries onto the HaptoTech devices to provide a stable platform and save on space. This made it even easier to develop cases, as I did not need to consider space for a battery. As the HaptoTech devices became more diversified (like a wrist model) the cases needed to get increasingly more complex to accommodate features like spaces for wrist straps or holes for pins. My engineering teachers helped a lot in deciding what was feasible and would work, and what wouldn’t.

About Me

My name is Alex Wulff. I’m a 17-year-old student/inventor from Upstate New York. For more than a few years, one of my many passions has been technology. One of my other passions has been sharing the things I’ve made with other people so they can improve upon my design and code. I hope that by providing you with this information, you can take it to a whole new level and really create something awesome. If you do happen to take these ideas to heart, please contact me and let me know what fantastic creations you’ve made!

Contact

You can email me at info[at]coniferapps[dot]com. I’ll try and get back to you as soon as possible.