Students develop cane with e-tags to guide blind

Aug 03, 2009 By DAVID N. GOODMAN , Associated Press Writer
This May 6, 2009 photo released by Central Michigan University shows Kevin Rock wearing glasses that simulate visual impairment to test a Smart Cane on the school's campus in Mount Pleasant, Mich. The cane is able to detect electronic navigational aid tags and help the blind avoid obstacles and reach their destinations. (AP Photo/Robert Barclay)

(AP) -- A cane equipped with the technology that retailers use to tag merchandise could help blind people avoid obstacles.

An engineering professor and five students at Central Michigan University have created a "Smart Cane" to read electronic navigational tags installed between buildings to aid the blind in reaching their destinations more easily.

"This project started as a way for me to teach students to see and understand the ways that engineering can be used for the greater good," said Kumar Yelamarthi, the professor and project leader. "We wanted to do something that would help people and make our campus more accessible."

During the spring term, Yelamarthi and five senior engineering students tested the cane, which is equipped with technology, similar to what retailers put on products to keep them from being stolen.

The Smart Cane contains an ultrasonic sensor that is paired with a miniature navigational system inside a messenger-style bag worn across the shoulder.

For the test, the students installed identification tags between two buildings on the campus in Mount Pleasant, Mich.. A speaker located on the bag strap gave audio alerts when the system detected an obstacle and told the user which direction to move.

Students wearing glasses that simulate visual impairment tested the cane.

The students also created a vibrating glove to assist those who are both visually and hearing-impaired.

Yelamarthi said it's one of the first outdoor applications of and said he plans for students in upcoming classes to further refine the system while he seeks grants to speed the research.

The next step probably involves using the system in a wider area. Down the line, Yelamarthi wants to work toward integrating the Smart Cane's data with .

©2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Explore further: Cyclist's helmet, Volvo car to communicate for safety

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Assistive technologies for the blind

Dec 15, 2004

Researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz, are developing new assistive technologies for the blind based on advances in computer vision that have emerged from research in robotics. A "virtual white cane" is ...

New Bluetooth system orients blind and sighted pedestrians

Sep 18, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- A new Bluetooth system designed primarily for blind people places a layer of information technology over the real world to tell pedestrians about points of interest along their path as they pass them.

NASA helps visually impaired students

Jul 14, 2006

Twelve visually impaired or blind U.S. high school students will have an opportunity to explore careers in rocketry as part of a NASA program.

Recommended for you

Cyclist's helmet, Volvo car to communicate for safety

8 hours ago

Volvo calls it "a wearable life-saving wearable cycling tech concept." The car maker is referring to a connected car and helmet prototype that enables two-way communication between Volvo drivers and cyclists ...

California puzzles over safety of driverless cars

9 hours ago

California's Department of Motor Vehicles will miss a year-end deadline to adopt new rules for cars of the future because regulators first have to figure out how they'll know whether "driverless" vehicles ...

Cadillac CT6 will get streaming video mirror

Dec 20, 2014

Cadillac said Thursday it will add high resolution streaming video to the function of a rearview mirror, so that the driver's vision and safety can be enhanced. The technology will debut on the 2016 Cadillac ...

Poll: Americans skeptical of commercial drones (Update)

Dec 19, 2014

Americans broadly back tight regulations on commercial drone operators, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll, as concerns about privacy and safety override the potential benefits of the heralded drone ...

Cheaper, more powerful VR system for engineers

Dec 17, 2014

It's like a scene from a gamer's wildest dreams: 12 high-definition, 55-inch 3D televisions all connected to a computer capable of supporting high-end, graphics-intensive gaming.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.