Equipped with a color 3D camera, an inertial measurement sensor, and an on-board computer, a new robotic cane could offer blind and visually impaired users a new way to navigate indoors. When paired with a building's architectural drawing, the device can accurately guide a user to a desired location with sensory and auditory cues, while simultaneously helping the user avoid obstacles.
The design is described in "An RGB-D Camera Based Visual Positioning System for Assistive Navigation by a Robotic Navigation Aid," published in the IEEE/CAA Journal of Automatica Sinica.
The researchers added a color depth camera to an earlier version of the robotic cane. The system can determine the distance between the cane and other physical objects, and in combination with data from an inertial sensor can map a user's precise location to the existing architectural floorplan.
"We're interested in creating a device that closes many of the gaps in functionality for white cane users," says Cang Ye, lead author of the study and professor of computer science at Virginia Commonwealth University.
The team is looking to slim down the device which is too heavy for regular use.
From National Eye Institute
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