Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Navigation for the Blind

PostedJune 11, 2017

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LEDE: Walking sticks for the blind might become a thing of the past, as a new wearable technology gives the visually-impaired greater access to the world around them.

Randy Atkins: For the visually impaired, finding a chair in a packed room is a daunting task. So Daniela Rus and her engineering team at M-I-T have developed a system that assesses surroundings through a 3-D camera and laser device worn in a pouch hung from the neck.

Daniela Rus: We can take a picture of the scene, we can recognize all of the objects in the scene, including the chairs, and we can recognize if there is a person attached to the chair or not.

Randy Atkins: The information is sent to a special belt that vibrates in the direction of nearby objects while its buckle forms codes in Braille that give more information, about the open chair or, say…

Daniela Rus: If you had a database of your friends, then the camera could actually search for those people in the image.

Randy Atkins: The system doesn’t actually talk, allowing users to hear sounds in their environment.  With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, WTOP News.