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Researchers at Stanford have developed a high-tech white cane that protects consumers from obstacles.

A shot of the enlarged can is helping out navigation.۔

A shot of the enlarged can is helping out navigation.
Image: Andrew Broadhead

Engineers at Stanford University have worked to improve the standard white cane, which allows blind people to move around freely and safely. In a new study this week, their design, simply called augmented cans, improves the speed and navigation skills of both visually and visually impaired people. Scientists say their open source design should make it easier for the technology to reach out to the visually impaired community.

Cannes have been used by a few visually impaired and blind people for centuries for navigation. But it wasn’t until the early 20th century that the white cane-white meant that the cane was easily noticeable to others.Became Synonymous with visual aid Despite this long history, only a small fraction of eligible people use a white cane. An estimate). Canes are not the best solution for detecting obstacles while walking, even after extensive training to use them, and there are other ways to navigate, such as a guide dog, which may be preferred.

Patnick Slade, a PhD student in robotics at Stanford, focused on ways to improve mobility through eosinophils or prostheses. But during his time at Stanford’s Intelligent Systems Lab, he began to learn about new developments in improving autonomous vehicles. He wondered if some of this work could be applied to improve the classic stick.

The challenges of the visually impaired community are well documented in the research literature, but their navigation methods and preferred solutions depend on many factors such as visual acuity, physical fitness, income, location of their neighborhood. / Ability to walk etc. Slade told Gizmodo in an email.

The Omni Wheel allows users to move at different speeds and uses hippocampus feedback to allow users to move left or right.۔

The Omni Wheel allows users to move at different speeds and uses hippocampus feedback to allow users to move left or right.
Image: Andrew Broadhead

Augmented cans, described in a new one. the study Published in Science Robotics, there are two major differences from a typical white rod. Near the base, there is a device filled with various sensors, including a camera, which collects information about a person’s surroundings, including GPS and LIDAR data (LIDAR other objects). Uses reflective laser light to apply). At the base of the stick is an omni-directional wheel that comes with a setting to adjust a person’s walking speed and hip feedback to move left or right as the user needs (the same basic concept in video game controllers Vibration in response to game actions is observed. In principle, the device should be able to overcome potential obstacles and help to reach unknown locations.

To test their rod, Slade and his team completed a series of navigation challenges for visually impaired and visually impaired people (24 in total) in both external and internal environments. People with insight were new to the use of the cane, while people with visual impairment had at least a few years of experience. All of them had already been blindfolded. An enlarged cane looks better than a white cane during these tests.

“Our experimental results show that people with poor eyesight in a range of indoor and outdoor activities chose to walk faster using augmented cans than with a standard cane. This means that our device Provides some mobility benefits, “said Slade. “In addition, we did some experiments to show that our device can provide support that a normal rod cannot do (for example, moving to a specific room or object in the indoor environment, such as in a mall.) Go to the coffee shop) “

In the past, there have been attempts to develop so-called smart cans. But there is a major obstacle to their widespread use. involved in Price, some devices cost more than 1,000, compared to a standard stick, which can cost less than $ 20. Some researchers have also criticized the lack of involvement of visually impaired sugarcane users during development, which could lead to devices that do not really provide many additional benefits.

A cane stretched out in front of the researchers, pushing a participant into a hallway.۔

A cane stretched out in front of the researchers, pushing a participant into a hallway.
Image: Andrew Broadhead

Slade says his team’s cane was made with the help of visually impaired people, who used the smart cane to give feedback on what they wanted. He noted that no single design is likely to suit everyone’s needs, but he tried to cover as many bases as possible.

One result I found surprising was that visually impaired people had an average of 20 years of experience using a white cane, but after only 5 minutes of training, they were able to choose the speed of walking with our tool. What This shows me that our Haptic feedback method is correct and that conveying information about the environment to the user can improve their confidence and allow them to move faster.

The team also uploaded their design to an open source database, which means others can now improve it. They have already identified some possible ways to upgrade, provided they have more time and resources to develop it further. In particular, they aim to lighten future versions of sugarcane.

“While our device is relatively low cost ($ 400), open source, and lightweight (l 2 pounds) compared to other research devices, it certainly has room for improvement as a product. For example. Each participant commented on the weight of the prototype in the follow-up survey. “I think technology and software are available to make it really friendly and easy to use.

In the future, he added, it is possible that the device will only need a smartphone and something attached to the wheel, making it easier for users to add to their existing rod and remove when not needed.

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