P07002: Two-way communication board

Project Readiness Package

Table of Contents

The objective of the Project Readiness Package is to document:

It will serve as the primary source of information for students necessary during Phase 0 (Planning) to develop a MSD I plan and schedule including specific deliverables and due dates. The Project Readiness Package will also support Faculty evaluation of project suitability in terms of depth, scope, and student / faculty resources by discipline.

Administrative Information

Proposal Number:
Project Name: RIT/NTID Two-way Communication Board
Project Number: P07002
Track: Assistive Devices and Bioengineering
Start Term: 2006-1
End Term: TBD
Faculty Guide: E. DeBartolo, eademe@rit.edu
Faculty Consultant: D. Phillips, dbpeee@rit.edu
Customer organization: RIT KGCOE faculty, (Dr. DeBartolo will act as faculty customer), tutors, and students
Customer contact information: Dr. DeBartolo eademe@rit.edu
Principal sponsor: NSF

Project Continuation


Project Overview

NTID and RIT are home to a large population of deaf and hard-of-hearing students who are integrated into the campus population along with hearing students and faculty. When deaf or hard-of-hearing students visit a professor's office hours or drop by one of the many tutoring labs on campus, communication can be slow and frustrating when interaction is limited to handwritten notes. The goal of this project is to design a device that will allow users to communicate rapidly using a menu of phrases, terms, and symbols specific to a particular discipline. Individuals will be working one-on-one, and communication should be visual in order to accommodate deaf and hard-of-hearing users. Part of the team's task will be to determine what terms are used most commonly in different settings, possibly developing a series of files that can be loaded for use in different discipline-specific areas.

Staffing Requirements

Discipline Number of Students Skills Required
EE 4 Development of turnkey embedded software and hardware, determine useful terms, equations, symbols for EE, CE, math and sciences
ME 2 Material selection, enclosure/keyboard design and manufacture; determine useful terms, equations, symbols for ME, ISE, math and sciences, durability analysis, thermal analysis and management

Continuation, Platform, or Building Block Project Information


Principal Sponsor or Sponsoring Organization


Detailed Description

The envisioned device would be a stand alone interface that would allow interaction of two individuals, presumably one of which is not familiar with sign language and a person with a hearing impairment who is familiar with sign language.

The objective of the device is to allow an individual who is hearing impaired to easily indicate or be shown a discipline or technology specific concept, symbol or phrase critical to a technical engineering dialogue. It should also provide utility for two individuals, at least one of whom is hearing impaired, who are familiar with sign language but who may find sign language limiting in terms of efficiently indicating a particular technical engineering topic.

The original use case involved an interaction between a faculty-student or TA-student interaction as would be conducted in the Engineering Learning Center (ELC) relative to a homework or class topic. Another possible use case would involve interaction in a lab environment. Based on the original use case, the first implementation of this device would be targeted to be located in a controlled access public location such as the ELC where a variety of faculty, TA's, volunteers and students would have access to the capabilities this would provide. As such, it is required that the device be mountable in a secure fashion that would enable its limited relocation within that environment (e.g., to move from one desk to another). To enable relocation, it should be battery powered with a capacity for recharging.

Since multiple users should have access to this capabilities of this device, it must be designed with a user interface that requires as minimal amount of training (i.e., should be as user friendly and intuitive as possible).

Presuming that this proves to be an effective way to augment these types of dialogues, which may be conducted by one person in a variety of different environments (faculty office, dorm rooms, library, etc.) it would be ideal if the device was designed in such a fashion that it could be possessed or dedicated to an individual and utilized as circumstances and locations warranted it.

The device should provide simple user input that allows a simple selection of common subjects relevant to a particular discipline (EE, ME, CE, ISE, Physics, Math, Biology) that would also be easily selectable that result in a display that is conveniently visible to both parties and optional audible description. It should also allow the input of simple text that might help clarify the meaning or intent of the displayed item.

A potential implementation would comprise something similar to a small size form tablet PC or larger PDA that would provide basic touch or fixed keypad input and would accept a full keyboard and/or mouse for auxiliary input as well as a standard SVGA display for auxiliary output (e.g. for input to a LCD projector).

Another potential implementation is comprised of a small display with a stand and two keyboards. The screen is split into two sections, one for each individual. Both individuals have the capability to enter text. The current lines of text would be accentuated in a manner that would differentiate them from previous lines of text.

To allow for continued development, refinements and upgrades as an individual progresses through their studies or as the device needs to accommodates various individuals, the configuration of selectable display items and associated optional audio would be accommodated via software and a standard mass-storage device or communication link (e.g. USB based Flash drive or wireless Ethernet connection). It would also be useful to provide storage, communication or printing of a dialogue session for review after the fact. To enable reasonable portability and readability, the overall size of the device in its most basic state should be the size of a text book with dimensions of 1" x 8.5" x 11" (thickness x width x height) with a corresponding equivalent weight.

Customer Needs

Customer required:

Customer desired:

Customer optional and possible consideration for future expansion:

Customer Deliverables

Proposed concepts and planned final design for customer review and approval, final detailed design concept for customer approval. At a minimum, PC-based system should be created that demonstrates proposed functionality using mouse based interaction. Software and hardware architectures should be defined and documented and necessary development systems specified including cost and availability. Preliminary test plan to be conducted and approved by a cohort of targeted users and team guide at time of final delivery will be completed and approved.

A functional prototype that has been tested with representative users, User's Manual, parts list including sources for replacing consumables, and training session for interested faculty and ELC tutors

Customer and Sponsor Involvement

Regulatory Requirements

American with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations, as applicable, physical and electrical safety (applicable standards need to be examined depending on implementation, e.g., for battery and AC powered units)

Project Budget and Special Procurement Processes

$1200. All purchases to be made on SDAPD credit card. Team will provide weekly budget/BOM updates and return annotated receipts with credit card.

Intellectual Property Considerations

Hardware and software should be developed using non-proprietary tools and result in no IP infringement considerations or on-going licensing concerns.

Engineering Specifications

Safety Constraints

Detailed Course Deliverables

Refer to Grading and Assessment Scheme.

Overall Deliverables

Deliverables Breakdown

Preliminary Work Breakdown

Grading and Assessment Scheme

Grading will be as indicated on the standard grade form. Additional graded deliverables specific to this project include a complete User's Manual and a 2-page summary of the project suitable for publicizing the project in n annual report. These will be included in the Discretionary Deliverables category for SDII.


Average expectations ( C ) - System functional specifications, software and hardware engineering specifications, software and hardware architecture development, proposed selection of hardware and software development materials and tools, completed test and verification document.

Above average expectations ( B ) - Average expectations plus completed software and hardware designs (flowcharts, software specifications, schematics, mechanical drawings) feasibility assessment including durability assessment and power/lifetime estimates, baseline software that demonstrates user interaction, completed bill of materials suitable for ordering necessary development materials and tools.

Excellent ( A ) - Above average expectations plus demonstration of PC-based or proposed compute platform prototype system that utilizes specified software architecture and development environment that demonstrates required functionality of system and allows interaction with customer for evaluation and refinement, prototype of final packaging.


Average expectations ( C ) - Prototype system that meets functional requirements according to relevant test specifications that demonstrates proof of concept but does not allow simple reconfigurability. May be AC wall powered. Shown to meet relevant safety and usability standards and requirements.

Above average expectations ( B ) - Average expectations plus battery powered unit that is rechargeable, is reconfigurable via software download/replacement/reprogramming, meets all Customer Required items to customers satisfaction based on documented usage.

Excellent ( A ) - Above average expectations plus simple user reconfigurability as well as implementation of at least two of Customer Desired items.

Three-Week SDI Schedule

Required Resources

Source Description Available
RIT EE faculty - embedded s/w and h/w development Yes
RIT ME faculty - packaging, materials, and durability design Yes
RIT ISE faculty - ergonomic considerations Yes
RIT IT faculty - human interface considerations Yes
RIT NTID faculty - usability and efficacy development and assessment ?
Source Description Available
RIT Observe faculty and tutors working with students in offices and ELC Yes
RIT Space for storage, testing and construction YES
Source Description Available
RIT Equipment for assembly and testing of device Yes
RIT Computing tools for hardware and software development Yes
Source Description Available
NSF Funds to purchase materials to build device Yes
RIT Library Reference documents for applicable codes and regulatory agencies Yes
Source Description Available
RIT NTID students - development and assessment of efficacy and usability Yes
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