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  April 17, 2013
Peripheral Vision

Industrial Designer Develops Smart White Cane

By Eye² Staff

Selene Chew, an industrial designer from Singapore, wanted to make it easier for visually handicapped people to locate friends and others nearby. Her solution was Blindspot, a smart cane with sonar and phone capabilities.

According to Chew, Blindspot helps visually handicapped people take on an active role in socializing and allows them to venture into places that they had not dared to explore previously. It informs them if a friend or family member is nearby and helps to locate them. The location of their friends can be abstracted from popular geographical-based social apps such as Foursquare and communicated through the Bluetooth earpiece connected to the cane.

Having known that a friend is nearby, they can choose to call them with the earpiece or be guided toward their friends. Their friend's location can be guided by a tactile GPS navigator on the cane handle. It is a horizontally rolling ball that points to the exact direction to walk. Additionally, an in-built ultrasonic sensor helps detect hanging objects and warns of ground obstacles. This allows visually handicapped people to confidently travel out of their comfort zone and be aware of people they know being around them.

Chew originally developed Blindspot for her honors thesis at the National University of Singapore. She subsequently received an NUS Entrepreneurship Practicum Award 2011, was named a runner-up for the James Dyson Award in 2011, and was the Grand Prix Winner for Netaxplo 2012.

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