It was only recently that the Japanese carmaker announced it was working on a Toyota designed wearable mobility device for the blind and visually impaired individuals. It would appear that the company is putting its technology to more use than just building the self-driving cars of the future. However, starting from the same basic concepts, Toyota could soon start producing these amazing gadgets that can help the blind navigate the indoors and outdoors alike a whole lot easier than before.
The name of the project is BLAID, and at the current time, its status is still set to ‘experimental’. Development is undergoing, and Toyota announced that it hopes the wearable will be ready for beta testing in the near future.
The BLAID wearable is a U-shaped device that you place around your neck and on your shoulders that is capable of thoroughly scanning the environment that you are in thanks to a number of in-built cameras. Said cameras would be able to detect certain elements of the user’s surroundings such as elevators, stairs, lavatory and exit signs as well as various logos. All of this information would be then relayed to the user via a number of vibrations and speakers to help them either avoid obstacles or reach the destination they wish to.
While it is only in the plans but development on this side has not yet begun, Toyota is also devising a method of incorporating facial recognition software into the BLAID, as well as a more detailed ability to map and identify particular objects.
In addition, the BLAID would be controlled by the user via voice commands and buttons alike to allow its user to request specific information or ask for guidance in regards to navigating the space they are in at a given time.
As part of the entire BLAID project, Toyota is also beginning a campaign that is looking to engage employees from a multitude of companies worldwide to submit videos and images of common indoor landmarks in order to assist the software of the wearable to better detect various types of objects. The more examples, the better the software, will become at learning how to detect landmarks.
This is yet another example of a field that requires just as much attention from market-leading companies that although may not specialize in them, can still make use of proficient software and technology they own in a whole different direction.
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