New smart white cane increases independence for blind users

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Friday, 11 November 2011 15:03pm

A modern take on the white cane by National University of Singapore student Selene Chew has received the runner-up award at the 2011 James Dyson Awards. The smart white cane, called Blindspot, combines GPS technology, social networking and ultra-sonic sensors to help blind or vision impaired people navigate public spaces and stay in touch with their friends.

Blindspot integrates a traditional white cane with new technologies, allowing blind or vision impaired people to better socialise using social media with geo location features such as Foursquare and Facebook Places.  The Blindspot smart white cane uses information from friends signed in on social media to firstly identify the location of a friend and provide navigational directions to the user that are given through voice cues on a Bluetooth ear piece.

For instance, instead of a blind or vision impaired person having to rely on their friends to see and approach them in public places, Blindspot allows users to proactively identify and approach friends.  

The inbuilt ultra-sonic sensor can also detect and warn users of low hanging objects. The smart white cane is also easily navigated through a tactile navigation menu on the handle which can be detached and used as a phone handset indoors. The Bluetooth headset and detachable phone handset can be easily charged on a wireless charger.

The Blindspot smart white cane design brings together the best of new technologies and opens social networking and the convenience of GPS navigation to people who are blind or vision impaired. The Blindspot smart white cane is not yet available commercially for purchase but its designer is currently working towards finding a suitable company to further develop her design and project.

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