Technology that gives direction to blinds by California Institute

If we can see, we simply look around and identify all the things in our way. You guide yourself and identify all the obstacles but what about blind people. They can only use their senses to guide themselves.

‘Caltech’ researchers who combined hardware and computer vision algorithms to develop software that enables objects to ‘talk’.

This device is worn as a portable headset. The technology converts the optical world into English audio. The researchers said that the device should be first available in banks, grocery stores, museums, and other locations, to assist blind people to make their way through unfamiliar places.

If every object speaks then it’s not sounds messed up? How it works

Liu with his team programmed CARA with several different modes.

  • The first mode called spotlight mode, In this mode an object only says its name when the user is facing it directly. As the user turns their head to face various objects. Each object say their name, and the pitch of the object’s voice also provides an audio clue that tells the relative distance from the user.
  • In a second mode which is called scan mode, the environment is scanned from left to right with objects saying their names accordingly.
  • The third mode is target mode, where the user can select one of the objects to talk exclusively and use that as a guide to navigate.

Can you Imagine a world where all the objects around you have voices and can speak to you,” says Meister. Wherever you give a steady intent look, the different objects you give attention on are activated and speak their names to you loud.

CARA (the Cognitive Augmented Reality Assistant). CARA is programmed and developed for a wearable headset computer called a HoloLens which is developed by Microsoft.  It can scan a user’s environment and focus on individual objects such as a laptop, tv, lamp. With  CARA we can provide a voice to each object in the environment and it will say its name upon the user’s command. The technology also delivers different sounds to different objects depending on their location within a room.  For example, if the object is closer to the user’s the sound pitch is high and if the object is in the left side of the user then it will sound like its coming from the left.

CARA is still in its early stages but will benefit from the rapid development of algorithms for computer vision. The researchers are already implementing new schemes for real-time identification of objects and pedestrians. Eventually, they hope that places like banks, hotels, and shopping malls will offer CARA devices for use by their blind customers.

The paper is titled “Augmented Reality Powers a Cognitive Assistant for the Blind.”

Source Credit: Caltech


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