Once again the cold hand of technology has stepped into the world of people with disabilities and turned it all around. This new vest, which is hooked up to a stereoscopic camera and mapping software, gives its wearer directional clues via vibrations on the shoulder pocket.
Although many people with visual handicaps rely on canes for support, robotic vision is a much more effective visual aid. Innovative technology created by engineers at the University of Southern California is aiding the blind by taking the same tools that give robots the ability the see to direct the blind around potential obstacles.
Sight is a most peculiar concept to grasp when one thinks about a robot, a mere piece of metal being able to see, for the bot actually doesn’t see in the same way a human being does. Instead, it processes information and makes judgments about its environment by using information collected by computer software. Simultaneous mapping and localization (SLAM) is currently the most complex vision software for robots.
The system works with the help of two cameras that supply information to the software, which creates a map of its surroundings that is constantly updating itself as it moves through the natural environment. Generally speaking, participants fared better with the vest than they did with their canes, but the creators of the vest are aware that shoulder vibrations are only one of many potential methods of communication. They are considering putting the software into a glove or maybe even through an ear- piece.
Technology helping mankind. What better communion than that?