Of course, it's only in the prototype phase now, with a single buggy, but it's a start.
The skeptic in me had sarcastically nodding his head, but as I read through it became clear that with the right combination of technologies, beacons, and triggers, this system could work amazingly well and give the blind a new level of independence and mobility. What's most impressive is the team that put this together on such a limited budget.
But that's not allThe Blind Driver Challenge team at Virginia Tech’s Robotics and Mechanisms Laboratory built the buggy. The steering wheel is hooked up to a distance monitor that gathers information from laser range finders, and it uses voice software to tells the driver how far to turn the wheel. For example, the monitor will tell the driver “turn left three clicks.” As the driver does that, the monitor makes three clicking noises.
and lastly, 360 degree braille perimeter mapping for perceiving objects.A vibrating vest provides cues to follow when accelerating and decelerating. The vest vibrates in different places — the back, the belly and the shoulders — to convey different commands. When the entire vest vibrates, it means, “Slam on the brakes!”
It's not like we're going to see this kinda thing on our streets any time soon, but I can see this kind of technology being implemented as a trial balloon. I think it'd work best if the driver were to have a partner along to help them visually at first. But who knows where this could take the blind?Hong wants to continue working on a tactile map interface. The system, called Airpix, shoots compressed air through tiny holes on a screen in real time, to provide a layout of the area surrounding the vehicle. Drivers can “read” the map with a hand, much like Braille. Hong said he needs more feedback from the blind and visually impaired to refine the system.