Smart cane could transform lives of the blind and visually impaired

An enterprising researcher from The University of Manchester has developed a prototype tool that could help transform the lives of the blind and visually impaired.

Vasileios Tsormpatzoudis has upgraded the white cane – which has been used as a mobility tool for centuries – by adding a low-cost embedded computer that functions in a similar way to a car parking sensor.

PhD student Vasileios, from the University’s School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, was inspired to develop mySmartCane after witnessing the struggles of his mother who has retinis pigmentosa, a hereditary eye disorder which affects the retina.

“mySmartCane allows visual impaired people to sense their environment beyond the physical length of their cane,” said Vasileios Tsormpatzoudis, who is researching energy storage and power network integration at The University of Manchester.

“The user is alerted to approaching objects using gentle audio, rather than waiting for the cane to physically bump into the object. Navigation is therefore easier and much faster.”

He added: “My main inspiration was my mother, who has retinis pigmentosa. I have seen first-hand the struggle visual impaired people have to put up with when they try to navigate with the traditional white cane.”

“Even though the white cane is a simple…