An effective navigation system would improve the mobility of millions of blind people all over the world. A new "eye" developed by scientists in Japan will allow blind people to cross busy roads in total safety for the first time. The "electronic eye", which would be mounted on a pair of glasses, will be capable of detecting the existence and location of a pedestrian crossing, and at the same time measure the width of the road to the nearest step and detect the colour of the traffic lights. This research appears today (19th November) in the journal Measurement Science and Technology published by the UK's Institute of Physics.
Tadayoshi Shioyama and Mohammad Uddin, from the Kyoto Institute of Technology in Japan, have developed a system that is able to detect the existence of a pedestrian crossing in front of a blind person using a single camera. When combined with two other techniques the authors have produced, for measuring the width of the road and the colour of traffic lights, a single camera can now give the blind all the information they need to cross a road in safety.
Although some crossings make a sound when it is safe to cross, many do not. This issue has been tackled in the past. Adaptations have, for example, been made to the most common travel aid used by blind people, the white cane. There are some canes with added functions which use lasers or ultrasound to detect more distant obstacles. One such is the Talking Cane from Sten Lfving Optical Sensors in Sweden. But this technology can't give information about the location of a crossing, width of the road or the colour of the traffic lights.
Professor Shioyama said: "The camera would be mounted at eye level, and be connected to a tiny computer. It will relay information using a voice speech system and give vocal commands and information through a small speaker placed near the ear".
The device developed at Kyoto is the final product of a research programme that aimed to givPage: 1 2 3 Related biology news :1
Contact: David Reid
Institute of Physics
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