A group of engineering students from Central Michigan University is working on an electronic cane for blind people that would provide contextual information on the environment around the user. The team envisions a future where RFID chips are implanted into street signs, store fronts, and similar locations, and the cane reads those and feeds the info back to the user. The device also features an ultrasound sensor to help detect objects ahead of the cane tip.
More about the Smart Cane from Central Michigan University:
The Smart Cane, which has an ultrasonic sensor mounted on it, is paired with a messenger-style bag that is worn across the shoulder. A miniature navigational system inside the bag and the Smart Cane work together to detect RFID tags located on mini flags sticking out of the ground.
A speaker located on the bag strap voices alerts when an obstacle is detected, and also informs the user which direction to move. For those who are visually impaired and cannot hear, the students created a glove that uses sensors to vibrate different fingertips providing an alert or direction.
The students recently set up flags on CMU’s campus and tested the system with volunteers who found it to be effective, especially with navigation. Their recommendations along with data collected by the student team will be passed along to future student design teams with the goal that a fully functional system can be developed and implemented at CMU.