A smart cane can help the blind recognize familiar faces

smart cane for the blind

Students at Birmingham City University came up with a smart cane that could enable visually impaired to identify friends and family.

Dubbed XploR mobility cane, it’s being developed by ICT students Steve Adigbo, Waheed Rafiq and Richard Howlett. The device uses smartphone technology to recognize familiar faces from up to 10 meters away. Once a friend or family member has been detected from a bank of images stored on internal memory, the cane will vibrate and guide users towards them using a Bluetooth headset. To make this possible, the cane also features GPS functionality to aid navigation.

The Birmingham City University team have already presented the XploR cane to medical and science professionals in Luxembourg and France, and plan to visit organizations in Germany later this year.

The students conducted market research at the Beacon Centre for the Blind in Wolverhampton, West Midlands, to determine key features that the visually impaired would find useful in a mobility cane.

“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.”

The student project was presented as part of LILA, a European initiative encouraging entrepreneurship and fostering internationalization.