Monday, August 31, 2015

INNOVATION - The Smart Cane

"Smart cane may help visually impaired navigate more terrain" PBS NewsHour 8/26/2015


SUMMARY:  A high-tech upgrade to the traditional white cane may help blind and visually impaired people be more confident about navigating the world independently.  The NewsHour's April Brown reports from France.

GWEN IFILL (NewsHour):  Now an innovation that may help the blind become more independent.

It’s a new take on the familiar white cane that the visually impaired have been using for decades.

The NewsHour’s April Brown reports from the northeast region of France for the latest in our Breakthroughs series on invention and innovation.

APRIL BROWN (NewsHour):  Lysiane Perney doesn’t see the world the way most people do.  In fact, she doesn’t see much of it at all.  Perney, who lives in the city of Nancy in Northeastern France, suffers from retinitis pigmentosa.  Photoreceptor cells in her eyes, the rods and cones, have been dying.  And that causes the gradual loss of everything but central vision, and also the ability to see colors.

LYSIANE PERNEY, Visually Impaired (through interpreter):  When you move around in a city when you are visually impaired, it is very stressful, knowing where you are, having some landmarks, knowing this is the right bus line.

APRIL BROWN:  Nevertheless, Perney is a busy, independent woman, an elected city council member and an advocate for the disabled.  She moves around with the help of a few smartphone apps and a white cane, the kind the visually impaired have been using for decades to avoid obstacles.

But, soon, she may be able to buy a new kind of cane, one that will tell her a lot more about her surroundings.

FLORIAN ESTEVES, Co-Founder, Handisco:  You can have real-time information during your walk, like you can have information about public transportation, about the shops, public places.  You can have at what time the shop opens.

APRIL BROWN:  Florian Esteves and Mathieu Chevalier are engineering graduates turned budding entrepreneurs who are developing an intelligent white cane.  They have created a high-tech box that fits on a traditional white cane and uses infrared and ultrasonic sensors to detect obstacles, triggering the handle to vibrate.

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