Toyota developing wearable device for blind people

Japanese automotive manufacturer, Toyota yesterday announced that it’s developing a wearable device, under the project name “PROJECT BLAID” to help give the blinds and visually impaired people greater mobility.

“Project BLAID is one example of how Toyota is leading the way to the future of mobility, when getting around will be about more than just cars. We want to extend the freedom of mobility for all, no matter their circumstance, location or ability,” Toyota NA chief administrative officer Simon Nagata said in the blog post.

The system will be designed to help users better navigate important points such as restrooms, escalators, stairs and doors in indoor spaces like office buildings and shopping malls, plus, they will be able to interact with the device through speech and physical buttons.

According to BBC News, In an announcement made this week, Toyota said the device was not meant to replace those aids currently available to blind and visually impaired people, but to “help fill the gaps left by canes, dogs and basic GPS devices by providing users with more information about their surroundings”.

A group of developers working on this project said they were are also working on plans to introduce mapping, object identification and facial recognition technologies as well.

Robin Spinks, senior strategy manager at the Royal National Institute of Blind People, told BBC: “This is a very exciting development within the rapidly growing field of wearable assistive technology. Mobility is at the heart of so much in our society and a device like Blaid could open up limitless possibilities for millions of blind and partially sighted people.”

“We believe this project has the potential to enrich the lives of people who are blind and visually impaired,” Toyota partner robotics manager Doug Moore said in a press release.

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