Smart Cane With Bluetooth Communication Helps Blind Users Recognize Family And Friends
The addition of facial recognition, GPS, and Bluetooth® Smart technologies to the traditional white cane may make a big difference in the lives of the seeing-impaired. Students at Birmingham City University have developed the XploR model of smart mobility cane that aids navigation using GPS and can recognize familiar faces from up to 10 meters away using smartphone technology for facial recognition. The cane vibrates when it detects a recognizable image from those stored on an internal SD memory card, and then guides the cane’s user to the friend or family member. Bluetooth is the enabling technology that communicates information from the cane to an ear piece providing audio guidance. Today’s small, low-power, and intuitive Bluetooth chip helps keep the cane lightweight and easy to use.
The student project is part of LILA, a European initiative that encourages entrepreneurship and fosters internationalization. The three students responsible for the XploR—Steve Adigbo, Waheed Rafiq, and Richard Howlett—conducted market research at the Beacon Centre for the Blind in Wolverhampton, West Midlands, to determine key features that the visually impaired would find useful in a mobility cane. The team also had some personal motivation: Steve Adigbo recognized how useful this device could be for his grandfather who is blind.
XploR has already been presented to medical and science professionals in Europe to positive reactions and the students will be returning to the Beacon Centre for additional user testing. More information is available from Birmingham City University.