Researchers at Birmingham City University have released details of a new high tech cane for the blind that is designed to recognise the faces of the person’s friends and family members.
Using smartphone technology, the device known as the “XploR” mobility cane can identify faces from up to 10 meters away.
If the cane recognises someone, it alerts a visually impaired user by vibrating and transmitting a sound signal. The cane is also equipped with GPS to help the user navigate.
“My grandfather is blind and I know how useful this device could be for him,” Steve Adigbo, one of the cane’s developers and a student Birmingham City University said in a statement, adding, “There’s nothing else out there like this at the moment.”
The cane works by taking pictures of people in the environment and comparing them to a bank of images stored on an internal memory card, using facial-recognition software. When it finds a match, it produces a vibration and sends a signal to an earpiece via Bluetooth.
The team conducted market research at the Beacon Centre for the Blind in Wolverhampton and found that in addition to high-tech features, the cane needed to be lightweight and easy to use.
The researchers have already presented the cane to medical professionals and scientists in Luxembourg and France, and plan to take their device to Germany later this year. They also plan to return to Beacon to test the product and demonstrate its training and security features.
Seems another smart use of smartphone technology. Hopefully available soon.