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GuideSense Device Helps Visually Impaired Sense Their Environment

  • Synopsis: Published: 2017-01-14 - Wearable assistive device for the visually impaired enables them to sense their environment and move around more safely. For further information pertaining to this article contact: VTT Technical Research Centre at vttresearch.com.

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"A clear majority of the testers felt that the radar improved their ability to perceive their environment and increased their self-confidence when moving around..."

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has developed a wearable assistive device for the visually impaired, which enables them to sense their environment and move around more safely. The device, which is worn like a heart rate monitor, has been clinically tested.

The device functions on the basis of a radar system developed by VTT.

"The novel aspect lies in wearable sensor device which functions based on radio waves, so that the signal passes through normal clothing. This means that it can be worn discreetly under a coat, for example," says Tero Kiuru, a Senior Scientist at VTT.

The radar conveys information to the user in the form of vibrations or voice feedback. It senses most obstacles in the user's surroundings, although difficulties remain in sensing objects such as thin branches and bushes.

The radar has already been clinically tested in device trials approved by the National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health (Valvira), in which VTT's partners were Kuopio University Hospital and the Finnish Federation of the Visually Impaired (FFVI).

The test group included a total of 25 visually impaired people, of whom 14 were blind, 7 partially sighted and 4 were deaf-blind.

"A clear majority of the testers felt that the radar improved their ability to perceive their environment and increased their self-confidence when moving around," says Kiuru.

Image of woman wearing the Guidesense device, which enables visually impaired to perceive their environment better and safer. It monitors the obstacles in front of the user and uses vibration and or voice feedback to convey this information to the user.
Image of woman wearing the Guidesense device, which enables visually impaired to perceive their environment better and safer. It monitors the obstacles in front of the user and uses vibration and or voice feedback to convey this information to the user.

A total of 92% of the trial users felt that the device helped them to perceive their surroundings, 80% felt that their trust in their ability to move around independently had increased and 32% would immediately start using the test device in its current form.

On the other hand, they were not satisfied with distance control and vibration-based feedback.

The research will continue with selected test users and the device will be further developed.

A global market is believed to exist for the radar, since there are around 300 million visually impaired people in the world.

For further information visit: www.guidesense.com



Related:

  1. Wearable Artificial Vision Device May Help Legally Blind to Read - Artificial vision device may help people who are legally blind read, recognize faces, and accomplish everyday tasks with greater ease than traditional assistive reading devices - American Academy of Ophthalmology
  2. Sonar Glasses Obstacle Detection Device for Blind and Visually Impaired - Sonar Glasses mobility tool designed to increase safety and independence of blind and visually impaired, and to complement the white cane and guide dogs - Maggie McBride, Communications and Administrative Specialist G-Technology Group
  3. Orcam Device Worn on Eyeglasses Assists People with Low Vision - Miniature camera using OCR technology mounted on eyeglasses improves ability to read for legally blind - UC Davis Health System



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