How do they work?
The PHL Gloves use small vibrate motors to stimulate each finger and enable Passive Haptic Learning.
Passive Haptic Learning (PHL) allows people to learn “muscle memory” skills without paying attention to learning.
Users of the PHL Gloves can wear the gloves while doing other activities like driving, playing video games, even doing work or taking a test. After a short period of learning (~30 minutes), you can take off the PHL Gloves and use your new skill.
What’s the Big News?
Here’s the Problem: Less than 10% of Blind individuals can read Braille. The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) calls this the “Braille Literacy Crisis.”
Why is this a crisis? Because Braille = reading for these individuals and research shows that knowing Braille:
- indicates academic and career success
- correlates with employment
- facilitates communication and independence
How did this happen? Literature about the crisis indicates that the main causes are:
- the influx of new audio-based technologies (screen-readers, books on tape…) that do not teach the skills that come with reading Braille
- limited access to education and a shortage of qualified Braille teachers
- the time costs and difficulty of learning Braille
Can Technology help solve this problem?
This is where the PHL Gloves come in. With the goal of addressing the Braille Literacy Crisis, we created and built the PHL Gloves for Braille.
We designed a user-conscious, mobile system to passively help teach Braille – anywhere and anytime. Initially, we aimed to teach just Braille typing, but we are able to teach reading as well.
As Wearable Computing researchers, we studied the effectiveness of the Gloves and found statistically significant benefits provided by using the PHL Gloves to learn Braille. In fact, we expanded initial research and built a system to teach the entire Braille alphabet in four hours.
What else can the Gloves help teach me?
How to play a song on the piano.
Using the PHL Gloves for Piano, you can passively learn a melody on the piano. For example, our studies show that the average user can learn 45 notes of a song like “Amazing Grace” or “Ode to Joy” in 30 minutes.
Improving Hand Sensation after partial Spinal Cord Injury…
We have also studied using the PHL Gloves for Passive Haptic Rehabilitation. Partial Spinal Cord Injury patients, who had lost some, but not all, hand sensation and dexterity due to their injury, wore our gloves routinely for eight weeks while learning eight piano melodies. The participants showed improvement in hand sensation and learned a new skill!
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