A vibrating wearable device helps visually impaired people avoid collisions
Aleksandra Jones | | Quick Read
People who are visually impaired are now more independent and active than ever – but is there a way to also make them safer than ever? A randomized trial of 31 blind and visually impaired adults, conducted at Mass Eye and Ear in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, showed that a new wearable warning device reduced collisions by 37 percent compared with using a long cane, a guide dog, or both.
The device uses a wide-angle chest-mounted camera and two wristbands with a Bluetooth connection. Image-based data from the camera are used to calculate collision risk on the right, left, or head-on; when an obstacle is detected, the appropriate wristbands vibrate, letting the user know to move out of the way. Thanks to a novel computer vision algorithm that analyzes relative motion, the device can ignore nearby objects not on a collision course, making life on the go safer for people with vision impairments.
- S Pundlik et al., JAMA Ophthalmol, [Online ahead of print] (2021). PMID: 34292298.