Download Full Text (531 KB)


Physical exercise is challenging for individuals who are blind because they lack the spatial awareness necessary to imitate described motions for exercises, and additionally require physical guidance. The current solutions involve tactile equipment to assist in body placement, but a person with low vision cannot compare their own position to the correct position and adjust properly. The proposed solution is an instructional yoga program that will give feedback to the user based on her exercise performance, allowing people who are blind to be able to perform these exercises independently at home. The design will incorporate the Skeletal Tracking program of the Microsoft Kinect, which uses infrared waves to determine 3D positions of twenty points on the body relative to one another. The program will use these points to determine the relative anatomical joint angles and relate them to the angles that correspond to the yoga positions. It will determine for each limb segment what motion is needed to match the desired yoga position. The user will then receive vibratory feedback on the portion of the limb in the direction in which it must move. There will be four vibrators each on the humerus and femur, one each for flexion, extension, abduction, and adduction, and two each on the forearm and lower leg, one for flexion and one for extension. Because only one of the vibrators corresponding to opposing motion will be on at a time, there are twelve channels of communication, each with three different positions (0: both off, 1: one on, -1: other on). Each limb will be adjusted and given feedback separately before the user holds the pose. A microcontroller will be programmed to activate the appropriate vibrator based on data sent wirelessly from the computer. The vibrators will be attached to compression sleeves, so their positioning is constant and in contact with the skin. Our progress includes designing the software concept and program outline as well as determining the hardware needed to provide feedback including a parts list. We also chose yoga poses that we expect to be detectable by the Kinect, and vibrators that are compatible both with our hardware and the sensitivity of the mechanoreceptors. We initially were underestimating the complexity of the hardware needed for wireless communication and for controlling the actuators, but our advising and research allowed us to understand and make decisions about these design components. We also modified the number of vibrators in our design due to eliminating rotating motion, at the suggestion of our advisor. We learned about how low vision affects balance and coordination, exercising, and spatial awareness.

Publication Date



biomedical engineering, physical therapy


Biomedical Engineering and Bioengineering | Engineering

Faculty Advisor/Mentor

Dianne Pawluk

VCU Capstone Design Expo Posters


© The Author(s)

Date of Submission

July 2015

Independent Exercise Assistive Device for Individuals with Visual Impairments