The visually impaired often have difficulty sensing their environment, especially when walking in urban obstacle-intensive terrains. The most common assistive device is the white cane, which is used in a sweeping motion to get feedback on ground-level objects along the user’s path. However, the cane alone does not provide awareness of obstacles above the ground-level (such as long hanging branches) and beyond the physical range of the cane (such as street sign poles). Additionally the visually impaired rely on mental maps or help from strangers to navigate to their destination, reducing independence and self-reliance.
Young, visually-impaired users who already use a white cane and have smart phones.
We designed an Augmented White Cane (AWC) with ultrasonic range finders for detecting obstacles within a 2- meter range as well as mounts for the sensors that are both direction and height adjustable. Feedback from these sensors deliver haptic response on the handle when obstacles are detected at body or head-level.
To provide navigation instructions to our users, we developed an iOS app that determines when the user needs to turn and then transmits a command to the AWC’s strap to provide directional haptic feedback.
Ultrasonic Range Finder Mount
Navigation iOS App