Robots and Autonomous vehicles come with a range of sensors and cameras to get to know about their surroundings. However, this wasn’t the same for visually impaired people who still used guide dogs and canes to get through. But not anymore, as engineers have now developed a voice-activated wearable system that tracks obstacles and make its users aware of their surroundings in real-time.
The new system for visually impaired people contains components that can be worn without added weight than what usually people wear when leaving the house. The new visual assistance system is like a backpack that comes with headphones. Its developers said hiding the system was the focus while creating the device so that a person wearing it doesn’t appear as some robot walking on the streets.
The backpack contains a series of cameras, including a 4k one that provides color information and two stereoscopic cameras to assess the walking field’s depth. The information obtained from its camera systems is then transferred to its main computer in the backpack.
The device inside the backpack runs Raspberry Pi, an AI interface kit with Depth (OAK-D). It analyzes the visual data with the help of neural networks. The device comes equipped with a battery that provides up to eight hours of backup and a USB-connected GPS unit that tracks the location.
The sensors and cameras obtained visual data in the final step get relayed to the Bluetooth headphones that it comes equipped with. The system translates the data and tells the user all about its surroundings, like it tells when to stop and when to cross concerning the obstacles. It will inform the visually impaired that they are walking on the footpath or moving towards the main road. If a user is walking in the direction of a tree, it will inform so, all in real-time. Moreover, it also informs of the trippy surfaces, like stairs or a sudden elevation change. Aiding the user to take full control in knowing what’s happening around.
The user can communicate with the device, like if said ‘describe,’ it will reply with a list of things around with the information on their respective directions concerning the user. For instance, it will tell “car, 10 o’clock,” “person 12 o’clock,” and “traffic light, 1 o’clock.”
It comes with another amazing feature: it could save a location on a user’s voice command, such as “save location, grocery store.” The device will then take the user to the desired location when asked and also provides information on the total distance.
Some other devices to aid the visually impaired are also under development. However, no other device focuses on the minute details like this one. It sounds more than promising to allow its users to navigate the world without anyone’s assistance.
Its developers are working to make the project non-commercial and open-source to meet its development’s early timelines. Check out the backpack for the visually impaired, and learn more about its features in the video below.