The autonomous systems and algorithms tracking us are a source of stress, but mostly the use of the AI systems is enabling humans to develop technology that aids us for convenience and for even helping the visually impaired to roam the world on their own, without needing anyone’s assistance.
This is the case with the newly built smart shoe tech by Australian company Tec-Innovation that uses AI and ultrasonic sensors to aid the visually impaired or blind individuals to detect obstacles up to four meters away.
The name of the new shoe tech is InnoMake and comes as an alternative to the decades-old walking stick that millions of people around the globe rely on. The new shoe tech notifies a blind wearer of an obstacle through vibration and also gives an audible alert sounded on a Bluetooth-linked smartphone.
It sounds like a breakthrough invention for blind individuals to help them to get around places on their own, moreover, the company is working on an advanced version of the device that would come packing cameras and AI that also detects obstacles nature and notifies the wearer of it.
Tec-Innovation collaborated with the Australia’s Graz University of Technology to design and develop the AI systems for the device, modeled on neural networks capable of assessing the information provided by cameras and sensors. Enabling the tech to determine whether an area is obstacle-free and classifying what sort of an obstacle awaits ahead.
“Not only is the warning that I am facing an obstacle relevant, but also the information about what kind of obstacle I am facing. Because it makes a big difference whether it’s a wall, a car or a staircase,” Markus Raffer, one of the founders of Tec-Innovation, told TechXplore.
“Ultrasonic sensors on the toe of the shoe detect obstacles up to four meters away. The wearer is then warned by vibration and/or acoustic signals. This works very well and is already a great help to me personally,” Raffer, himself visually impaired, added.
The InnoMake shoe could be bought from the Tec-Innovation’s website for $3,850. The future version will pack cameras, however, the version available for now is also a piece of amazing tech packing advanced modes and algorithms for convenient use.
“You can make adjustments in real-time with the button on the back of the device. The range can be adjusted up to 4 meters by briefly pressing the button,” the Tec-Innovation website reads. “You can activate the intelligent mode which automatically pauses the system, e.g., when you are sitting, and you can also use InnoMake as a scanner to obtain information about your environment by means of foot movement.”
The new tech comes in a waterproof and dustproof case and gets attached in front of the shoe with ease. It is backed by a heavy battery that could go for a week without charge, depending on the use of the device. An empty battery could be charged using a USB cable and would take about three hours to complete charging. The company behind the innovative shoe tech has plans in the future to create somewhat a street view navigation map for blind people.