Toyota developing wearable device for blind
March 17, 2016
Japanese car maker Toyota is working to develop a wearable device for the blind and visually impaired that will help them do more with greater freedom, independence and confidence. Called Project Blaid, the device could help fill the gaps left by canes, dogs and basic GPS devices by providing users with more information about their surroundings.
Worn around the shoulders, it could help users better navigate indoor spaces, such as office buildings and shopping malls, by helping them identify everyday features, including toilets, escalators, stairs and doors.
The device will be equipped with cameras that detect the user’s surroundings and communicate information to him or her through speakers and vibration motors. Users, in turn, will be able to interact with the device through voice recognition and buttons. Toyota plans eventually to integrate mapping, object identification and facial recognition technologies.
“Project Blaid is one example of how Toyota is leading the way to the future of mobility, when getting around will be about more than just cars,” said Simon Nagata, executive vice president at Toyota Motor. “We want to extend the freedom of mobility for all, no matter their circumstance, location or ability.”
As part of the project, Toyota is launching a staff engagement campaign that invites employees company-wide to submit videos of common indoor landmarks. These videos will subsequently be used by developers to teach the device to recognise these landmarks.
“Toyota is more than just the great cars and trucks we build; we believe we have a role to play in addressing mobility challenges, including helping people with limited mobility do more,” said Doug Moore, manager for robotics at Toyota. “We believe this project has the potential to enrich the lives of people who are blind and visually impaired.”