Gursimran Singh is a 16-year-old class 12 student from Gurugram, who has introduced the concept of ‘imagine or visualize’ in the lives of the sightless by making ‘EyeScribe’.
“It is true that the blind do not miss what they never had. This doesn’t mean we accept their state or our inability to help them. After all, nothing can exceed the joy and sense of fulfillment one experiences by giving someone something they never had” says Gursimran.
In conversation with Gursimram :
1. How did you get the idea of making ‘EyeScribe’? What motivated you?
EyeScribe is an assistive device that helps the visually impaired experience the joy of reading. I had a relative who was visually impaired. Seeing him struggle every day led me to an open-ended question: “If we can, why can’t they?” and “if we can, then what should we?”.
2. Which has been the best moment in the making of EyeScribe?
When it was declared the National Winner of the 2017, Pramerica Spirit of Community Awards, opening up a host of opportunities for the young talent. Also, my stay at Washington DC for the International PSCA honor was the most valuable week of my life.
3. When did you start working on this project?
I started to work on this device in August 2016 and it took me almost three months to showcase it. It was first screened at the Atal Tinkering Lab Innovation Challenge by NITI Ayog in the FICCI Auditorium on November 5, 2016.
4. What is ‘EyeScribe’ all about?
EyeScribe is a type of wearable technology. It has an eight-megapixel camera fixed to the frame that enables the capturing of an image. Once the image is captured, it is processed to produce an audio output. The process basically includes an optical character recognition followed by a machine learning algorithm for correction and accuracy which is finally worked upon by a text to speech engine.
5. How is ‘EyeScribe’ different from other such machines?
The device gives the blind a 3D aural environment to create mental pictures while reading. There’s an abundance of braille devices in the market today. However, EyeScribe stands out as it nullifies the use of braille in itself. Taking advantage of the fact that the blind have an enhanced sense of hearing.
6. How is ‘EyeScribe’ important in textual learning for blind students?
EyeScribe dictates the text, which means the text need not be in braille; it can be in any language. Also, currently, the resources available to the visually impaired are fewer than what others have, and the books printed in braille are voluminous. EyeScribe is a virtual solution and can be used to any text matter, regardless of it being in braille or not. Most of the newspapers, which are printed in braille, are published every fortnight. But with EyeScribe, a blind person can stay updated every day because he/she can now read the daily newspaper.
7. Which was the most difficult period in launching ‘EyeScribe’ to this date?
During early screenings, EyeScribe lacked the required speed. I had to re-plan the process to reduce its input-output duration. After a lot of research and consulting people in this field, I was finally successful in eliminating its speed as a drawback. The authorities were skeptical of the medical reliability of the device and so they did not allow me to visit. I then had to work with doctors and psychologists to validate that my device was fit to use.