A blind man has developed a smart cane that uses Google Maps and sensors to identify one’s surroundings.
This revolutionary electronic walking stick is completely changing the way that blind people can navigate the worldand was designed by engineers from Young Guru Academy in Turkey. As a means of protecting people from low-hanging objects and obstacles above chest level, the WeWalk smart cane uses ultrasonic sensors to warn the user of nearby hindrances through vibrations in the handle.
The life-changing gadget can be paired with a smartphone’s Bluetooth system for easy control. The cane is also integrated with Voice Assistant and Google Maps software, and it can use built-in speakers to inform the blind person of all the nearby stores and infrastructues that they may not otherwise be aware of.
WeWalk CEO and co-founder Kursat Ceylan told CNN that he helped to develop the cane out of a desire to use modern technology as a tool for the visually impaired. Ceylan, who has been blind since birth, adds that connecting the stick to the Internet of Things -the concept of basically connecting any device with an on and off switch to the Internet (and/or to each other) - and smart city solutions makes it user-friendly.
“In these days we are talking about flying cars, but these people have been using just a plain stick,” he told the news outlet. “As a blind person, when I am at the Metro station I don’t know which is my exit … I don’t know which bus is approaching … [or] which stores are around me. That kind of information can be provided with the WeWalk.”
The WeWalk is currently being sold for $500 a pop. With time, the developers hope to eventually pair it with ridesharing apps and transportation services to further improve its navigational abilities.
Globally, it is estimated that approximately 1.3 billion people live with some form of distance or near vision impairment. With regards to distance vision, 188.5 million have mild vision impairment, 217 million have moderate to severe vision impairment, and 36 million people are blind. Also, 826 million people live with a near vision impairment and it is strongly believed that population growth and ageing will increase the risk that more people acquire vision impairment.