Students work on developing portable 3-D map

Oct. 29, 2014

By Rumasa Noor

UW-Whitewater students Alexandar Repsold and Steve Smith are working on a project that involves creating a 3-D map for visually impaired.

The two students, with the help of UW-W alumnus and Director of Makerspace David Buggs, plan on developing the map through 3-D printing.

Buggs gave them a tour of Makerspace where they also exchanged their ideas for the map, Repsold said.

The students have received a grant from the undergraduate research program at UW-W to aid them in completing this project.

“We are really interested in 3-D printing and undergraduate research is something we always wanted to do, so we thought this would be a really good project to work on,” Repsold said. The main concept is to create a map that can be easily carried by visually impaired to help them get to places on campus, Repsold said.

“We went to David Buggs, he kind of gave us the tour of Makerspace, and we talked to him about his ideas for it, and then we went from there,” Repsold. “We wrote up a proposal and here we are now.”

The project is in its early phases that Repsold and Smith are still in the designing process of it.

“Right now our idea is a portable, textbook-sized map that folds open, that they can carry around with them,” Smith said.

Repsold said they plan on adding symbols to the map, such as a triangle symbol for a bathroom. For a grassed area, stairs or a walk way, they plan on creating a different texture on the map, so the person would know where they are heading to just by sensing it.

The two plan on working on this project with the help of a 3-D printer at Makerspace and also through a software, which they are still searching for.

Repsold said this project is completely new to them. They have been discussing it and the purchase of the software with Buggs and their mentor Hien Nguyen.

“Hopefully once we know what software we are going to get, and once we make the purchase, then we can just take off from there and we can work nights and weekends because makerspace is open 24/7,” Repsold said.

The two hope to have this project finished by March of 2015.

“We are hoping to get a prototype by January, February and then consult with some actual blind people and see if they have any advice, what works for them and what doesn’t work, and then we can make a final version by March,” Smith said.

He also said they want their design to be as polished as possible, and create something that can assist visually impaired people “make their way around campus.”

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