Students in Israel at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev have developed new technology that allows blind people to “see” objects around them through a simple radar system. The device consists of a computer, two video cameras and a scanning light source that audibly alerts the individual of objects that are close in proximity. The system scans surrounding objects and their distance from two points, much like the human eyes. Currently, vision impaired people need either a sensor cane or a guide dog in order to walk freely, both of which take up the use of one hand. This invention could prove to change all of that.
The number of visually impaired people in the world is estimated as between 40 and 45 million. Previously there has been no effective replacement for the cane or guide dog. Many types of canes have been developed, some with sophisticated sensor technology and others that simply allow people to feel objects in their path. However, they only sense objects on ground level and they require constant action on the part of the user. Guide dogs are effective, but have disadvantages of their own. One of the largest is that they are partially color blind and can’t tell the difference between colored street signs, which could be a deadly disadvantage in an urban environment.
This new radar technology senses objects in a person’s normal field of vision. It will even sense overhead objects and anything to either side of the individual. The invention was unveiled at the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering conference at Ben-Gurion University and was developed by Elad Kuperberg and Einav Tasa, with the supervision of Professor Shlomi Arnon. “This optical radar device is not only user friendly, but unlike the other solutions it allows the blind to have the use of both of their hands,” said Professor Arnon about the system. A smart and intuitive solution for a big problem, this new technology could revolutionize the lives of the vision impaired.
Via Science Daily