Tag Archives: Graphical user interface

Students develop chess set for the visually impaired

Charles Buxton once said, “In life, as in chess, forethought wins.” Somaiya College’s forethought with their automated chess design provides a clear winner for all parties involved. The automated chess table includes braille pieces, voice recaps of every move, and textural contrasts between white and black spaces. The combination of all these factors allows the game to be utilized by those who suffer from visual impairments.


“There are already board games available in the market that can be used by the visually-impaired, but our board game involves technology that allows one to play the game online as well as on a physical board. The board automatically plays the moves depending on the keys pressed,” explains Gaurang Shetty, Head of the College’s Innovation Center.

The web connectivity of the project enables individuals to play each other from across the globe as the game board provides the player with a Graphical User Interface (GUI) over the Internet, so one person can play over GUI sitting in any corner of the world, while the other plays on the physical chess board.

At the heart of the 64-key membrane keyboard lies an Atmel-powered Arduino that allows the board to communicate with a connected computer. The team behind automated chess will be demonstrating their board at Maker Faire Rome next month.

“While the project is ready, we are also trying to incorporate other features to this chess board for even better results,” Shetty concluded.


Running a GUI window manager on an ATMega1284p microcontroller

I have a confession to make. Yes, I must admit that I’ve never thought of running a home-coded GUI window manager on an ATMega1284p microcontroller.

But that’s exactly what Andrew Rossignol did when he designed a Window Manager for an AVR microcontroller.

“I have been experimenting with a uVGA-II VGA controller for the past couple of weeks. It is an amusing piece of hardware that is capable of drawing graphics onto a VGA framebuffer,” Rossignol explained in a recent blog post.

“The VGA controller takes care of line drawing algorithms and helps to hardware accelerate the drawing of geometric primitives (squares, circles, triangles, polygons, lines). Once I realized the power of this hardware I decided to implement a window manager like you would expect on any standard desktop PC, [running] a mouse for user input to the system.”

At this point in time, the default system boots with three applications: Theme Manager, Audio Player and Window Factory. The Theme Manager is used to modify the colors of the system theme, the Audio Player to stream audio files stored on an SD card and the Window Factory to create new windows.

Software? Check out the infographics below for a quick breakdown.

Hardware? Just the basics – an ATmega1284p microcontroller, a uVGA-II VGA controller, a MAX233 level converter and a Microsoft Serial Mouse.

“I have maintained a Git repo on my laptop containing all of this code, [although] I am not 100% happy with it yet. I need to work on the UART driver some more and polish up some documentation before uploading it,” Rossignol added.