White Cane: Technology developed By and For blind people

For Antonio Alarcón it was not easy. A few years ago he was diagnosed with glaucoma and it was not long until the ONCE recommended that he start using a white cane. But very soon Antonio realized that there was an important problem: the cane helped him detect obstacles on the way, but only those that were below the waist. Canopies, umbrellas, branches… all this went unnoticed by the cane and with his meter ninety height, Antonio did not have it easy.

They develop a smart cane for blind people. This is how the white cane works

“I was a new blind man and my fear was to hit me with something in the face: umbrellas, awnings or tree branches. There were some products, but they were complex, difficult to use and very annoying, ”explains Antonio.

This was the germ of Egara, a cane for the blind with an intelligent assistance handle, adaptable to all traditional walking sticks for the blind, which avoids collisions with objects and barriers raised above the waist and undetectable to them.

The development process began in 2013. Antonio is part of the Bidons Egara Pigmentary Retinitis Research team, at the Miguel Hernández de Elche University (UMH), and joined other departments of the same institution and the technology company Instead Technologies and Together they developed this new device, the Egara cane.

The technology it incorporates is capable of detecting aerial obstacles that could not be located by a white baton. This process is possible thanks to three ultrasound sensors located at the bottom of the handle that create a virtual barrier in front of the user. When these sensors detect an obstacle, the wearer of the baton receives a vibration signal at the wrist strap that is connected to the handle.

To avoid repetitive warnings, which can confuse or create a feeling of overwhelm, Egara is designed so that it only warns of those objects that are really susceptible to colliding, discriminating others that do not suppose an interference on the road or that have already been detected on the road. usual tracking.

In the world there are 285 million people with visual disabilities , 39 million are blind and 246 million have low vision, but also, Antonio recalls, “there is an increasingly aging population with problems such as macular degeneration, and that needs new mobility to improve your quality of life. The few smart poles that exist today do not consider that the user must focus entirely on their movements. Egara addresses individual ergonomic, tactile and maneuverability aspects. For a visually impaired person, hearing and touch are almost their only way to receive information from the environment, and that is something that Egara, thanks to the vibration system, respects the most. I am convinced that it is the future ”.

Egara, which already has 5 functional prototypes waiting to be approved by ONCE, has been chosen as a finalist among hundreds of social proposals by Fundación MAPFRE for the Social Innovation awards to which numerous enterprises from more than 10 countries have applied.

Also Read | How much information can our brain store?

Leave a Reply