May 8, 2015 -
ICT students at Birmingham City University have developed a new smart cane that uses facial recognition technology to enable the visually impaired to automatically identify their friends and family up to 10 meters away, according to a report by Phys.org.
The ‘XploR’ mobility cane, developed by Steve Adigbo, Waheed Rafiq and Richard Howlett, also features GPS functionality to help navigate users.
“My grandfather is blind and I know how useful this device could be for him,” said Adigbo. “The smart cane incorporates facial recognition technology to alert the user when they are approaching a relative or friend. There’s nothing else out there like this at the moment.”
The team recently presented the XploR cane to medical and science professionals in Luxembourg and France, in which it received positive feedback from the latter.
The students also plan to visit organizations in Germany later this year.
Using facial recognition technology, the cane is able to detect faces up to 10 metres away.
The cane vibrates when it detects a recognizable individual from a database of images stored on an internal SD memory card.
Additionally, the cane is able to guide users towards friends and family members via an ear piece and audio guidance, transmitting the data through bluetooth technology.
The team also conducted market research at the Beacon Centre for the Blind in Wolverhampton, West Midlands, in an effort to integrate key features into the cane that could help the visually impaired.
“We found that high-spec technology features were essential requirements for users, as well as the cane needing to be fairly lightweight and easy to use”, said Waheed. “We’ll be returning to the Beacon Centre later this year for people to test the product and also to highlight the training and security features of the cane.”