The intelligent device for blind people

The wearable sponsored by Toyota that seeks to substitute all known devices to date.

Did you know that people with high levels of blindness cannot see anything?It may seem like an absurd question, but the explanation is quite complex; in fact, attempting to explain this to someone with sight is practically impossible. Despite advances in science and the normalisation of people with physical disabilities, there continues to be many false myths about blind people.

Blindness or vision impairment affects over 70 thousand people in Spain,according to membership data for ONCE (National Blindness Organisation in Spain) in June 2021, of which 13.98% suffer from total blindness.

Fortunately, there are many organisations that are seeking to improve these peoples’ lives, such as ONCE, through their Research, Development and Tiflotechnique Centre (CIDAT) whose objective is to procure the technical means necessary for “global employment, education and social” development.

The work of the Centre consists of developing and adapting devices that favour the inclusion of sight impaired people in society, as well as finding technical solutions that allow for the improvement of quality of life without them being perceived “as a stigma that makes them different from the rest of society” for those that use them.

A lot of technology attempts to facilitate everyday life, such as WeWalk, the intelligent walking stick that has all the advantages of a smartphone, such as GPS or voice assistant. However, it is not the only intelligent wearable on the market. Today, we bring you another great example: the BLAID sponsored by the Toyota vehicle brand.

Made up from the words “Blind” and “Aid”, this is a prototype intelligent device for vision impaired people which will act as a reinforcement or substitute to the devices and assistance elements that are known of today.

It is intended for helping visually impaired people with their daily activities, as well as guiding them through unfamiliar surroundings. The instrument manages to address the deficiencies of walking stick, guide dogs and basic GPS, as it provides more information on where a person is at that time. The device may also offer greater freedom, independence and confidence in oneself by becoming the person’s “ eyes”.

El prototipo actual del Proyecto BLAID es un dispositivo de manos libres con forma de herradura que se coloca alrededor de los hombros del usuario. 
The current BLAID project prototype is a horseshoe-shaped hands-free device that is placed around the user’s shoulders.

How does it work?

This gadget is equipped with cameras capable of identifying and detecting objects around the wearer, who will receive this information through the senses of sound and touch. The wearable is also equipped with speakers and vibrating motors, which warn the user of objects around them.

Another advantage of BLAID is that it has a voice recognition system and buttons through which the user can communicate with the wearable and ask about the location of things they are looking for. BLAID helps to identify both daily objects and services in public places, stairs and exit doors, particularly in closed spaces such as offices and shopping centres.

Toyota, the manufacturer, has spent three years manufacturing prototypes and is continuing the research to improve the device. It also asserts that BLAID is more oriented towards indoor spaces, “where systems of this type based on GPS do not work properly”.

It is estimated that the system will have facial recognition in the new prototypes, which will mean the quick identification of friends and family. They are also looking to include mapping and object identification technologies, although there is still no date for the launch of the product.

BLAID has a compact, ergonomic design, similar to a large horsehoe-shaped necklace. It is placed around the shoulders and has hands-free functions.