Science Buzz

A cane that “sees” for the blind

SmartCane for the visually impaired

Students of IIT Delhi have developed a smart cane for blind people. The SmartCane is designed to help users detect obstacles above knee-level and prevent accidents from occurring. Using sensors, the device detects obstructions up to a distance of 10 feet. It attaches to the top of a standard folding white cane, currently used by millions of visually impaired people across the globe.

Costing Rs 3,000, the SmartCane mimics the capabilities of bats, using sonar to detect objects in the surrounding environment. Ultrasound waves are sent out and, when they return to the cane, they vibrate on the relevant side to warn of an obstacle ahead. Different patterns and intensities let the user know how far away an object is. It has a rechargeable battery that lasts nearly a week without charging.

According to the World Health Organization, 285 million people are estimated to be visually impaired worldwide. Almost 90 per cent of these live in developing countries, with India home to the most, at 12 million.