Toyota believes everyone should be able to move freely and safely. This is why Toyota engineers and the Toyota Partner Robot Group have collaborated for 4 years with leading organizations and members of the blind community, to better understand the mobility needs of the visually impaired. The result is Project BLAID—a wearable mobility device for the blind and vision impaired that helps fill in the blanks left by canes, dogs and existing GPS devices.
Mobility is a right, not a privilege
The freedom to move is meant to be enjoyed by everyone. However, many people across the world face mobility challenges—from the man whose village has limited access to public transportation, to the woman whose outdated city infrastructure causes her to be stuck in traffic everyday. Those who face difficulties getting around due to visual impairments are no different.
While great strides have been made, there are still opportunities to help visually impaired people move more freely and independently.
Advancing mobility for others inspires Project BLAID: a wearable mobility device that will help people who are blind and visually impaired experience more of the world around them.
This transformational technology will have the power to:
- Detect surrounding objects, including signage, and identify restrooms, escalators, stairs, elevators, doors, exit signs, and familiar storefront logos
- Enable users to better explore indoor spaces, including airports, office buildings or shopping malls
- In the future, integrate mapping, object identification, and facial recognition technologies
The current prototype is a hands-free, horseshoe-shaped device that sits around the user’s shoulders, so it’s both easy to wear and unobtrusive. Its curves and angles form-fit the human body, and its material is smooth to the touch. It will be equipped with cameras that detect surroundings and will interact with the user through voice recognition, buttons, speakers and vibration. Plus, Bluetooth technology will allow the user to pair with their smartphone for additional functionality.
[su_quote cite=”Kivuti” url=”https://twitter.com/nimimikivuti”]We already have Bluetooth beacons that can guide people around indoor spaces through their smartphones and Lenovo is set to release a Project Tango-based handset which will use Google’s mapping tech to get accurate 3D representations of the world around it.[/su_quote]
The Project BLAID journey has just begun. Beta testing will begin soon.