BOSTON -- Inside the halls of Massrobotics in Boston is a life-changing innovation.
John Cunniff, who was born deaf and became mostly blind as a child, often needs a person with him in order to get real-time information.
"They communicate with tactile ASL," says Samantha Johnson, John's friend and colleague and the founder of Tatum Robotics, which is housed at MassRobotics. "So they hold onto the hand of the signer to receive the signs."
That has left John mostly dependent on an American Sign Language interpreter -- until now.
"We're developing the first independent communication tool for the deaf-blind community," Johnson told WBZ-TV.
Johnson and her company have built an interactive hand capable of communicating with John in tactile ASL. It's called the Tatum T1.
"You could choose news, you could choose stories, you could choose email," she said to John.
And it could one day clear the way for deaf-blind people to communicate with each other remotely.
"So that's our goal is really to make the world more accessible for deaf-blind people, a very historically forgotten community," Johnson told WBZ.
"It's really exciting for deaf-blind people," John said. "They're excited to learn the robot, to see it in the future, to see it grow, to see it improve."
The Tatum is not commercially available yet, it's still in testing. But there will be a chance this weekend for the public to see it. Tatum Robotics will be part of the largest celebration of robotics in the country the sixth annual Robot Block Party on the Seaport Common in Boston. It'll be held Saturday, September 30, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. It is free and open to the public and will feature more than 50 companies and universities showcasing their innovations.
It will include hands-on interactions with robots for kids and adults alike. For more information visit massrobotics.org/roboboston .
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