Monthly Archives: May 2005

Guidance for the blind

Unfolded long cane for the visually impaired. Photo:

Unfolded long cane for the visually impaired. Photo:

A cane with a receiver embedded in the tip could provide improved localization, as well as other useful information to blind individuals. If the cane tip were able to receive information (probably transmitted by very very weak radio signal) from chips embedded in the ground, then a world of possibilities would open up for having the information in the chip sent to the blind person.

Additionally, controls on the cane itself to select which, of several possible pieces of information, are brought to the attention of the cane user, with the information perhaps being translated into auditory form and listened to through an earpiece plugged into the cane. Map grid references might be one such piece of information, descriptions of traffic features might be another. For instance, the chips could supplement the textured pavement surfaces now commonly used to guide the blind by providing information about proximity to a road, a flight of steps, the pavement edge, or other hazard. Additional features might include information storage in the cane indicating the particular locations visited (touched) by the cane tip.

Contributors: Mark R. Diamond