From facial recognition technologies able to identify friends to laser rangefinders which can detect nearby objects, we have seen many cool advancements in the humble white cane. Today we are going to cover one more amazing addition, called the mySmartCane system which entails the latest parking sensor-esque technology which can help blind users with getting a better sense of direction and obstacles.
But the mySmartCane is different from any previous attempts, in that it doesn’t require a fancy and expensive cane to be bought anew. Instead, a high-tech ball just needs to be retrofitted below the cane, and voila, you have yourself a state of the art cane. The idea is a brainchild of a PhD student at the University of Manchester, Tsormpatzoudis, who saw his mother struggle with using a cane after losing her eyesight to retinitis pigmentosa, which is an inherited degenerative eye disease leading to severe vision impairment.
After interviewing and taking opinions of several white cane users, he came to the conclusion that using a simple 3D printed ball laden with all the necessary ultrasonic sensors would bring the ideal simplicity and affordability to every user. This 3D printed ball can be attached to any white cane, and its ultrasonic sensors can wirelessly measure the distance to nearby objects.
This information is then converted into an audio signal, which will beep with the frequency proportional to the proximity of an object in the path. The beeps can be sent via regular headphones or bone-conducting ones. The product was part of Tsormpatzoudis’ research project, and he admits that the design still needs some fixes and improvements. This might include another sensor to detect overhead obstacles e.g. sign-posts and doorways. He is also mulling over adding vibrations in place of the beeping sounds.
What are your thoughts on this wonderful and tech savvy cane? Comment below!