SmartCane device is an electronic travel aid which fits on the top fold of the white cane. It serves as an enhancement to the white cane and overcomes its limitations by detecting knee-above and hanging obstacles. Such objects include the side of a truck, hanging cloth strings, protruding coolers or air conditioners, railing, tree branches, inclined ladders, etc. These obstacles do not have significant footprint on the ground and thus can result in injury to the head or upper body parts. For safe mobility, it is important that they are detected early. The cane has other uses as a spatial awareness device as it can detect presence or absence of objects in the surroundings.
Further, as compared to the white cane, the detection distance is increased from 0.5 meters to 3 meters. It informs about the presence of objects before actually touching the object with the cane and thus helps in preventing unwanted contact. This avoids socially awkward situations like collision with people while walking or unsafe collisions with animals or into trash.
SmartCane device uses ultrasonic ranging to detect objects in its path and generates tactile output in the form of different vibratory patterns. These vibrations convey the distance information and thus enable the user to negotiate the obstacles from a safe distance. With simple orientation and training, any visually impaired person who is a regular user of the white cane for mobility can benefit from this device.
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