Tag Archives: Anthony Vipin Das

Fellows at TEDGlobal 2014: TED Fellows create data-rich, interactive maps of eye care in rural India (and Peru!)

At TED2014 in Vancouver, TED Senior Fellows Eric Berlow, David Gurman and Kaustuv De Biswas debuted MAPPR – a cloud-based tool that lets anyone create and publish shareable, interactive network visualizations on the web. (See “How data constellations tell a story: MAPPing the TED Fellows network and the conflict in Syria“) Since then, the company has embarked on a variety of projects, applying MAPPR to understand everything from creative traits among high performers in the United States to marine ecosystems off the coast of Chile and healthcare delivery systems in India.

Here at TEDGlobal, Senior Fellows Kaustuv De Biswas and Anthony Vipin Das, consultant ophthalmologist at the LV Prasad Eye Institute, India, sat down and created a MAPP for the Eye Institute’s 127 clinics spread across the four states of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Karnataka, in India (see video above). The MAPP helps visualize the infrastructure and referral interactions in eye-care delivery services in real time. We asked them to tell us more.

First of all, what does the LV Prasad Eye Institute do?

Vipin: LV Prasad Eye Institute is a WHO Collaborating Center for Prevention of Blindness, a not-for-profit organization based in Hyderabad, India, that has served over 18 million patients in the past 27 years. Currently, we have 127 eye care centers across four states in India, with a unique innovative Eye Health Pyramid Model in which vision centers in remote rural villages feed into more centralized secondary centers called the Village Vision Complex — which are in turn connected to tertiary centers in cities. This referral pattern helps deliver eye care services more efficiently to the under-served in rural India.

How will MAPPR help your work?

Vipin: Using MAPPR, we were able to quickly develop a prototype MAPP of our network to visualize connectivity between the different centers, patient movement, referrals, and a host of other factors relating to how these centers interact. In the future, we will be able to integrate this with our existing electronic medical record system — EyeSmart EMR — for real-time analysis. Another exciting possibility would be to overlay performance metrics on top of these networks, which will let us design optimal solutions for eye care delivery.

Kaustuv, how else are you using MAPPR to help Fellows with health care projects?

Kaustuv: We’ve built a prototype for UK-based ophthalmologist Andrew Bastawrous [see his TED Talk: "Get your next eye exam on a smartphone"], who’s researching efficient healthcare delivery networks in Lima, Peru. It maps clinics, nursing homes, and hospitals as a large dynamic referral network. When a patient visits a clinic, they’re either serviced there or referred to another location based on the severity of the case and availability of trained staff. MAPPR immediately enables the visualization of these referral networks. Right now, we’re working on algorithms and interfaces to identify possible bottlenecks in the system, to help balance resources in real time. Along with Vipin, we’re also exploring opportunities with the Healthcare Innovation Cell, Ministry of Health, Government of Telangana, to apply modern data science approaches to healthcare delivery in India.

Below: see a MAPPR prototype of the Lima Network with Andrew Bastawrous.

Introducing FITTLE, a toy to help blind children read — and feel


Ophthalmologist Anthony Vipin Das is currently working on a new toy for the blind, FITTLE, with Tania Jain, a designer from National Institute of Design, Gandhinagar. The toy will help blind children learn to read Braille while getting a sense of the shape of the world around them. We asked him to tell us all about it.

For blind children, learning Braille is an integral part of how they interface with the world, and most current haptic technology for the blind focuses on Braille. However, teaching Braille at a young age is definitely a challenge. For example, a child who needs to be taught the word “fish” in Braille has no idea what a real fish looks like. He feels four Braille letters that stand for F-I-S-H, and cannot even try to visualise how a fish looks. I feel that learning of Braille can be made a lot more fun if it’s taught in an interactive way.

Tania Jain, a designer from NID, Gandhinagar, approached me with this idea at a DIY workshop “Engineering the Eye” that I co-organized with the Camera Culture Group of Ramesh Raskar from the MIT Media Lab. Her concept involves breaking down objects into as many blocks as there are alphabets in the word. So, FISH is constructed by joining together four puzzle blocks, which have the letters F-I-S-H on them, each embossed in Braille. When the visually challenged kid fits together the blocks by feeling and matching the right shapes, he can read the word “fish” embossed in Braille, as well as feel around the contours of the entire block, which is shaped like a fish. Like this, it becomes easy for the kid to understand shapes of various objects that can be taught by a parent or a teacher. The possibilities are endless.

This new toy, which we call FITTLE (“fit the puzzle”), helps children to learn individual letters of Braille, construct words, and understand the form of objects, all through a playful puzzle game. Essentially we are changing the way blind children at a young age are going to perceive the world around them.

We wish to help spread this as far and wide as possible. With current technology, FITTLE can be downloaded through open source platforms and the pieces can be 3D printed by anyone who wishes to do so. We are in the process of creating the first alphabet series as well as a graded curriculum where the child can progress to different levels according to age at LV Prasad Eye Institute, India.

We are excited at how this can radically change the learning process of Braille and the way children will feel form. Moving forward, Tania and the FITTLE team wants to experiment with different materials that would feel like the original object’s texture – like rubber to give the feel of a real fish – for kids to understand even better. It’s been an amazing experience to mentor the team so far, and we are really looking forward to reaching every blind child with FITTLE to help them perceive and understand the world around them in a playful way!

Catch more of the action at FITTLE’s website which went live today!