Jul 052011

We’ve seen a number of prototype and concept devices aimed at upgrading or even replacing the low-tech white cane and this latest example from Hebrew University – the Virtual Cane – appears close to becoming a commercial product.

Virtual Cane is a handheld device that uses a type of sonar to recognize physical objects up to 10 m (39 ft) from the user. It emits invisible focused beams towards objects it is pointed at and determines how far away they are. The information is then relayed to the user via a series of vibrations which vary in intensity depending on the distance.

Dr. Amid Amedi from HU’s Institute for Medical Research Israel-Canada (IMRIC) led the team behind the Virtual Cane which was demonstrated last month in Jerusalem.

The device is designed to enable a blind person to assess the arrangement of surrounding physical objects (such as their size, or height) by constantly scanning the environment – similar to a bat or a dolphin. It could also integrate a kind of face recognition function by distinguishing between smiling and sad faces, and could be used for research into brain reorganization in the blind.

Read more . . .

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