Toyota Announces Wearable Mobility Assistance Device for Visually Impaired

Engineers at Toyota have devised a new product that could make navigation much simpler for the visually impaired. The gadget, meant for use indoors, was unveiled by the auto giant on Monday. Designed to be used as a wearable device and christened Project BLAID, the new product is expected to prove especially useful when navigating shopping malls and office spaces.

The device, which can be worn on the shoulder, is easy to mistake for a neck travel pillow because of its design. Despite seemingly inconspicuous design, it assists users with embedded cameras programmed to recognize stairs, doors, and escalators.

How Can the Visually Impaired Navigate with Toyota’s New Gadget?

Fitted with speakers and motors that vibrate to convey a signal to the user, the device can tell users about objects in their surroundings. Moreover, the device also features voice recognition features so users can interact with the device. Buttons on the device allow for a greater degree of interactivity. This device is different from other devices currently on the market in that it can recognize bathroom signs, exit signs, and the like. A visually impaired user wearing the device, can, for instance, ask the device to look for a bathroom sign and then be guided to it by the device.

However, the auto giant did not clearly mention when the device would be available on the commercial market. According to Toyota’s partner robotics manager, Doug Moore, Toyota feels that it has a “role to play in addressing mobility challenges.”

The Device will Eventually Morph into a Sophisticated Navigation System for the Visually Impaired

While the current version of the device offers basic assistance, the future of the device could be entirely different. If Toyota’s plans achieve fruition, the mobility device could also feature advanced tech such as facial recognition, mapping, and object identification. Projects such as this one are a result of Toyota’s recent commitments to robotic technology, which collectively amount to billions of dollar.


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