November 30, 2022
Science

AI-Powered Shoes That Can Help the Blind Avoid Obstacles

The sensors detect obstacles and warns via vibration and an audible alert on a linked smartphone.

Move over, walking stick. There’s a new invention in town.

Austrian company Tec-Innovation recently revealed its smart shoes that use ultrasonic sensors to help blind folks or those who are somewhat visually impaired to detect obstacles up to four meters away.

Known as InnoMake, the smart shoe aims to become a modern alternative to the decades-old walking stick that millions of people around the world depend on to get around as safely as possible.

The current model relies on sensors to detect obstacles and warns the wearer via vibration and an audible alert sounded on a Bluetooth-linked smartphone. It’s already pretty incredible but the company is already working on a much more advanced version that incorporates cameras and artificial intelligence to not only detect obstacles but also their nature.

“Not only is the warning that I am facing an obstacle relevant, but also the information about what kind of obstacle I am facing. Because it makes a big difference whether it’s a wall, a car or a staircase,” Markus Raffer, one of the founders of Tec-Innovation, told TechXplore.

“Ultrasonic sensors on the toe of the shoe detect obstacles up to four meters away. The wearer is then warned by vibration and/or acoustic signals. This works very well and is already a great help to me personally,” Raffer, himself visually impaired, added.

The next step for Tec-Innovation is to use the data collected by its system to create a kind of street view navigation map for visually impaired people.

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