Electricity helping the blind navigate

August 25, 2014

Specialists at the Monterrey Institute of Technology (ITESM) developed a device able to guide blind or visually impaired people in established routes through electrical stimulation of the organs associated with balance (vestibular apparatus).

The development has the potential to guide blind people in places like hospitals, offices, schools and shopping centers. It is synchronized with, previously designed, virtual maps of that are inserted in a memory.

According to Alfredo Victor Mantilla Caeiros, professor at the Department of Mechatronics in Mexico City's Campus, the device can be calibrated according to the characteristics of each person. For example, he explained, it can be adapted to the length of the legs or the average size of the steps.

The device looks like a belt, but in reality is a system known as "inertial navigation". This is a set of instruments designed to measure acceleration (accelerometers), an electronic compass pointing to the right direction and the vestibular system, which is the technology that emits micro-electric shocks to the organs responsible balance.

"In addition, technology is overall complemented by geo-positioning systems (GPS) and ultrasonic sensors to detect objects that were not anticipated in the route," said Mantilla Caeiros. The specialist at Tec de Monterrey specified that electrical stimuli arrive at the time the person has to turn left or right to reach its endpoint.

When questioned about the advantages the device has against other auxiliary tools, the specialist said that with this technology there is no interference to other senses (touch, hearing) that the needs to develop accurately. The researcher also commented that other systems that only employ GPS or radio frequency technologies are not accurate enough to locate people in places like offices or schools.

Currently, the Monterrey Institute of Technology has a first prototype of the , with a patent pending. The researcher added that specialists in electronics and biomedical engineering at this university that develop such are currently perfecting calibration and automation development to suit the needs of each person.

Explore further: Artificial intelligence lenses for the blind created

Related Stories

Artificial intelligence lenses for the blind created

May 20, 2014

Combining computational geometry, artificial intelligence, geo and ultrasound techniques, among others, scientists from the Center for Research and Advanced Studies (CINVESTAV) created a device to help people with low vision ...

Autonomous vehicle technology could help blind to navigate

September 25, 2013

Navigation devices used by blind people today lack the ability to operate indoors and other areas where GPS is not available, and are unable to help the user deal with items that aren't part of maps, such as crowds and cars. ...

New non-invasive device tests the quality of chicken products

August 20, 2014

Researchers of the Universitat Politècnica de València have developed a new device that tells us the state of conservation of poultry and detects malformations analyzing its electrical properties. It is a non-invasive system ...

Research team uses robot eye technology to help the blind

May 2, 2012

(Phys.org) -- A research team from Pierre and Marie Curie University in Paris have ported technology originally developed to help robots maneuver in real world environments to Braille enabled devices that help vision impaired ...

Recommended for you

Your (social media) votes matter

January 24, 2017

When Tim Weninger conducted two large-scale experiments on Reddit - otherwise known as "the front page of the internet" - back in 2014, the goal was to better understand the ripple effects of malicious voting behavior and ...

Protective wear inspired by fish scales

January 24, 2017

They started with striped bass. Over a two-year period the researchers went through about 50 bass, puncturing or fracturing hundreds of fish scales under the microscope, to try to understand their properties and mechanics ...

'Droneboarding' takes off in Latvia

January 22, 2017

Skirted on all sides by snow-clad pine forests, Latvia's remote Lake Ninieris would be the perfect picture of winter tranquility—were it not for the huge drone buzzing like a swarm of angry bees as it zooms above the solid ...

Singapore 2G switchoff highlights digital divide

January 22, 2017

When Singapore pulls the plug on its 2G mobile phone network this year, thousands of people could be stuck without a signal—digital have-nots left behind by the relentless march of technology.

Making AI systems that see the world as humans do

January 19, 2017

A Northwestern University team developed a new computational model that performs at human levels on a standard intelligence test. This work is an important step toward making artificial intelligence systems that see and understand ...

0 comments

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.