Inspiring Practice Project

Sensory Assistive Technologies for Impaired Persons - Empowerment of disabled people by non-invasive rehabilitation technologies that enhance the senses

Uploaded by Luca Giulio Brayda on 20 November 2016
Owned by RRI Tools . Last modified on 11 January 2017

Our motivation stems from the lack of understanding of how the brain of sensory impaired individual can effectively acquire spatial information from residual sensory channels. We focus on visual and hearing impairment. European countries have divergent ways of rehabilitating visual loss, none of them pushing yet towards technologies enabling independence and self-rehabilitation. Tactile maps are bulky, expensive, not tailored to user needs. Social exclusion derives from the consequent lack of communication and mobility. Expensive hearing aids cannot restore the brain skill of discriminating speech in noise and no solution still exists. These issues reduce socialization capabilities of both young and elderly persons.

We have shown that the sense of touch is effective in building mental maps from virtual layouts. We built and tested programmable tactile devices as low-cost PC peripherals to learn mathematics in absence of vision (“Tactile Mouse” project) or as programmable maps to access graphics through the web (“BlindPAD” project). Then, we improved the performance of hearing aids with a microphone array technology that help hearing impaired persons to understand speech in crowded environments (“Glassense” project). Our assistive aids can become complementary tools for rehabilitation practices and for everyday use, increasing social inclusion of blind, visually and hearing impaired people.

We, as researchers, have developed strong links with societal actors: rehabilitation practitioners, teachers, families, end users. Our prototypes are monitored by stakeholders and policy makers; our serious games were conceived with school educators and rehabilitation practitioners; our proposed experimental protocols were shared between partners on a cloud-based platform; our results were disseminated to common citizens in exhibitions centered on disability; our technologies are shared and developed with those industrial partners which can exploit them in their product portfolio.

Monitorization & Evaluation
  • A novel way of doing research, where scinece inspires tehcnologucal developments and assistive technologies are designed and assessed together with end users
  • Novel rehabilitation practices, where technology can save a lot of practitioners' time, therefore reducing costs per person
  • New technologies which are low-cost, therefore can be industrialized even in developing countries.


  • Researchers and rehabilitation practitioners frequently stand from different viewpoints: within our projects researchers have gained -from the clinic- knowledge which is written in no book.
  • Rehabilitation practice contains an enourmous amount of non-structured, but genuine, information that can really push research to many steps forward.
  • After collaborating with researchers, practitioners gained a peculiar way of observing disabled persons, by considering that well-establish rehabilitation methods can always be improved if one takes the time to "experiment".
  • Talking with end users and listen to what they would love to have, but they cannot have yet despite existing technologies, is frequently better than having novel ideas


From 15/05/2009 to 31/12/2016

Technology makers, researchers

  • Department of Robotics, Brain and Cognitive Sciences of the Fondazione Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, Genoa, Italy
  • Ecole Polythechnique Federale de Lausanne, Neuchatel, Switzerland
  • Dipartimento di Ingegneria dell’Informazione, University of Padova, Italy
  • Department of Naval, Electrical, Electronic and Telecommunications Engineering of the University of Genoa (DITEN), Italy
  • Department of Computer Science, Bioengineer,g Robotics and Systems Engineering (DIBRIS), Genoa, Italy

​Policy makers 

  • Fundacja Instytut Rozwoju Regionalnego, Cracow, Poland
  • Istituto David Chiossone onlus, Genoa, Italy

End users associations

  • Istituto David Chiossone onlus, Genoa, Italy
  • Italian Union of the Blind (UIC)

Clinical validators

  • Neuroscience, Rehabilitation, Oftalmology, Genetics and Childhood Sciences dept. Of the University of Genoa, Italy
  • Istituto di Bioimmagini e Fisiologia Molecolare, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Genoa, Italy

Industrial partners

  • Geomobile GmbH, Dortmund, Germany
  • Ateknea solutions, Budapest, Hungary
  • Linear Srl, Italy
  • Softjam, Italy
  • Camelot Bio, Italy
  • Optics International, Italy



[email protected]

skypename: chepotenza

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