The Georgia Institute of Technology have developed a glove that could teach newbies how to play piano melodies in just 45 minutes. They are using similar technology in a new glove that teaches wearers how to read and write Braille. But the users don't actually have to pay attention -- they learn while multitasking.
"The process is based on passive haptic learning (PHL)," said Thad Starner, a Georgia Tech professor and author of the study. "We've learned that people can acquire motor skills through vibrations without devoting active attention to their hands."
The gloves work with small vibrating motors embedded into the knuckles. The motors vibrate in sequences corresponding with typing patterns of predetermined phases. Audio cues teach the user which Braille letters are being produced in the sequence. "Remarkably, we found that people could transfer knowledge learned from typing Braille to reading Braille," said Ph.D. student Caitlyn Seim. "After the typing test, passive learners were able to read and recognize more than 70 percent of the phrase's letters."
Seim is currently conducting a second PHL study, hoping to teach the entire Braille alphabet in just four sessions. So far, 75 percent of participants have have perfect typing performances.
Researchers have used similar technology to improve mobility and sensation for those who have suffered spinal cord injuries.