Toyota Develops Device for the Blind with Project BLAID
How many of us take our sight for granted, let alone the rest of our senses? If you think technology has a role to play in making sure that mankind progresses on the whole, regardless of any physical shortcomings, then you’ll be pleased to read that Toyota has introduced a new device that will assist the blind in getting around.
Wait, what? Why would an automaker be developing technology for the blind? Doug Moore, the Administrator of Accomplice Mechanical Technology at Toyota, is determined that the car company is not just about automobiles. Moore states that they are “more than simply the immense autos and trucks we construct.” Mobility is empowering, whether it takes the form of a huge truck or a pair of glasses.
Currently waiting to begin beta testing, the device is intended to be worn around the shoulders and aims to assist individuals through indoor spaces such as offices, small rooms, and even shopping centers. Toyota announced the innovation on their blog, saying the gadget will help users “better navigate indoor spaces, such as office buildings and shopping malls, by helping them identify everyday features, including bathrooms, escalators, stairs and doors.”
Named Project BLAID, the device is part of an innovation scheme by Toyota with an end goal to help the elderly, particularly in the company’s native Japan. In a video released by Toyota, scientists explain its competency in successfully aiding a visually impaired man towards a restroom.
So how does it work? The device itself will come with cameras that detect the user’s surroundings and send relevant information to him or her via a combination of speakers and vibration motors. Users can then opt to interact with the device with voice recognition or buttons. Toyota has every intention to integrate mapping, object identification, and facial recognition technologies in due time.
Future versions should see Project BLAID let the blind get up and around a public area freely, as the cameras pick up nuances of a place such as where the toilet is and similar information. This makes it a whole lot easier and more convenient for the visually impaired without having to ask around. Hopefully a working model is available for the masses sooner rather than later, and that it will not cost too much, either.
This is not the first time that a company has disclosed an invention of this kind. Microsoft collaborated with UK charity Guide Dogs with a similar device that intends to guide the visually impaired successfully around cities. The result of these technologies could pave the way for more complex devices that will include mapping, object identification, and facial recognition.
That’s the power of mobility. That’s the power of Toyota. At Elmhurst Toyota, we’re proud to play a part in a future everyone can see.