A standard white cane remains an essential aid for getting out for a number of visually impaired people, but to date, it also has not really offered a lot of affordable modern updates, which is something that a number of researchers want to change. It was noted that a certain cane borrows autonomous vehicle tech for certain visually-impaired individuals but costs $400.
Autonmous Vehicle Tech Used for Canes
According to ScienceAlert, borrowing technology that is designed for autonomous vehicles, the whole team has come up with a certain self-navigating smart cane that is capable of identifying obstacles within the surrounding environment. This would then simply nudge users safely away from them.
In the said tests, the smart, augmented cane would help increase walking speed for those that are visually impaired by 18%. For a whopping 250 million, as noted by NCBI, people that have certain sight difficulties around the world, this particular assistive technology could then lead to a serious increase in the quality of their lives.
LIDAR Technology Used
Patrick Slade, a mechanical engineer from Stanford University in California, noted that they wanted something that was more user-friendly compared to just a white cane with sensors. It was noted that they cannot only tell users that there's an object in their way but will tell them what the object actually is and help them navigate around it.
The cane tech relies on LIDAR technology or Light Detection and Ranging tech as per NOAA. This uses reflecting laser at certain spot objects as well as distance. Sensors are reportedly normal to smartphones like GPS, magnetometers, accelerometers, and gyroscopes which keep track of a user's position, direction, and speed.
Simultaneous Localization and Mapping
When it comes to the software side, the cane actually uses a number of artificial intelligence algorithms which include simultaneous localization as well as mapping or SLAM. This is a way of building up a map of a certain unknown area while also keeping track of the location of the user. Drone tech has also had a huge jump as a lung for transplant was transported from hospital to hospital in six minutes.
At the tip of the cane, a certain motorized, omnidirectional wheel could nudge walkers in a certain direction or another, and can also even be used to direct someone towards a destination just like a coffee shop. Mykel Kochenderfer, a computer scientist from Stanford gave a statement.
Open-Source Cane Costs $400
It was noted that they want the humans to be in control but also provide them with the right level of gentle guidance. It is in order to get them where they want to go as safely and even as efficiently as possible. There is a heart mobile app that also allows users to monitor important body data like weight, blood pressure, and even physical activity.
It was noted that this isn't the first time that technology has actually been packed into the smart canes, but there are also current models that are heavy and expensive. The new one is reportedly lightweight and can also be available for a few hundred dollars which is less than a tenth of the cost of the other existing smart canes.
As of the moment, the research remains a prototype while the design remains open-source which can cost up to $400 for those that want to build their own cane. The research was initially published in Science Robotics.
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Written by Urian B.