Toyota developing wearable device to help blind and visually impaired people

Toyota is developing innovative technology to improve mobility and independence for blind and visually impaired people.

The Project BLAID initiative involves the design of a wearable “u” shaped device. The device will be worn around the shoulders and aims to fill in the everyday gaps visually impaired users experience using canes, dogs and GPS devices.

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The wearable technology will provide the user with information about their surroundings and help them identify everyday indoor items such as escalators, stairs and bathrooms, according to Toyota.

The company says that built-in cameras will detect the user’s surroundings and the device will communicate information using speakers and vibration motors.

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“We believe we have a role to play in addressing mobility challenges, including helping people with limited mobility do more,” said Doug Moore, Manager, Partner Robotics, Toyota, in a blog post on the company's website. “We believe this project has the potential to enrich the lives of people who are blind and visually impaired.”

Users will be able to interact with the device using voice recognition technology and buttons. Toyota added that it will eventually add mapping, object identification and facial recognition technology.

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As part of the project, Toyota is inviting its employees to submit videos of common indoor landmarks. The videos will be developers to “teach” the  Project BLAID device to better recognize the landmarks.