Engineering students at Central Michigan University have developed a new RFID-enabled Smart Cane to help blind students move more freely on campus.
The Smart Cane is equipped with an ultra sonic sensor that works together with a miniature navigation system contained within a shoulder bag worn by the user. The navigation system receives information from RFID-embedded mini flags planted along campus walkways. When the user gets too close to a flag a speaker located on the bag strap issues an audio alert that tells the user which way to move.
The students also developed a glove for those who are both visually impaired and hearing impaired, which issues its warnings through vibrations instead of sound. Sensors in the glove send vibrations to different fingertips to communicate specific alerts or directional cues.
For now the system is confined to small areas, such as college campuses, but project leaders hope for more widespread use in the future, possibly coupling the cane with GPS technology to make the Smart Cane usable anywhere.
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