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Ultrasonic white stick for detecting holes for blind people

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Most blind people use white sticks as a main aid while walking outside. This simple object helps them to navigate, avoid obstacles and also to inform other people about their disability. It comes very handy, especially in cities. When blind people are moving, they are likely to encounter a number of obstacles that can be very dangerous for them. From the visual impaired people’s perspective we can divide obstacles into three main categories: - obstacles rising from the ground; - hanging obstacles; - holes in the ground. Luckily enough, blind people are able to detect and avoid all of these categories of obstacles, however each category of obstacles can be detected in a different way. By simply moving a while stick not far from the ground, a visual impaired person can sense various obstacles from the ground to approximately their waistline. As for hanging obstacles, they are harder to detect for a blind person who uses a white stick in a conventional way. In such a case electronic applications come handy. Researchers have experimented with ultrasonic sensors for detecting obstacles [1]. They have been able to detect a number of objects and compute the distance, but they had problems with detecting small obstacles or ones with soft surface. Some of these problems can be solved with replacing ultrasonic sensors with infrared sensors [2, 3]. On the market, there are also aids for blind people designed for an obstacle detection like for example “Ultracane" [4]. As for the last category, it is very difficult to detect any holes or excavations in pavements or roads in real-time. These defects are usually present only a little bit below the ground level. If we want to detect an obstacle in front of us, we just send a signal (infrared or ultrasound) and wait[...]

Device for road holes and obstacles detection


  Today’s life as we know it is based on visual signs. Practically all the important information needed to go independently through an average person’s day is provided by their sight. Let us focus on some urban environment. A person is able to see objects, determine their approximate distance, distinguish between a hole and a bump on a road, detect and recognize an important element from its background or simply read some text information from books, posters, etc. Most of these actions, if not all, allow people to gather information and give them time to react before they approach some objects. Furthermore, there are many devices that help people gain more important for them information than they would be able to learn from a closest environment in their field of view, such as navigation systems. There are also many devices that help people keep safe and avoid some accidents, like for instance, street lights and road signs. But neither of them is well suited for visually impaired people. Of course, there are special audio signals for blind people near some pedestrian crossings and there are devices which help visual impaired people avoid obstacles [1], but they are still not sufficient to keep them safe and well informed about their surrounding environment [2]. This is mostly due to a change of sensors positions while a blind person is moving. That is why we develop a MOBIAN© project - Mobile Safety System for the Blind [3]. This project is supported by The National Centre for Research and Development under: NR13-0065-10. A part of the MOBIAN© project is to create a highly reliable device for detecting obstacles and holes of various length and depth, as it is presented in Fig. 1. There is no doubt that special algorithms have to be designed, tested and implemented for this purpose. Fig. 1. Holes and other obstacle detection Rys. 1. Wykrywanie dziur, usk[...]

3D environment modeling - hybrid system for blind people DOI:10.15199/ELE-2014-147


  Today’s world is filled with electronics that are now more sophisticated and what is important they can be really small reaching microscopic (MEMS) or even nanoscopic sizes (NEMS) [1]. Therefore, future generations are going to be aided by nearly impossible to see with the human eye devices in many fields, for instance, nanorobotics [2], medicine [3]. As for the field of medicine and rehabilitation researchers all over the world are successfully implementing electronic and electro-mechanic systems into disabled people’s lives to help them to cope with every day’s existence. There are always improving artificial pacemakers [4], digital hearing aids [5], active prostheses [6], etc. There are prostheses almost for everything. However, the difficulties occur with designing medical and rehabilitation aids for the visually impaired people taking into account their disability and the fact that humans percept and recognize environment mainly using sight. The full restoration of vision is not possible with the knowledge we have at present, however researchers are working on it [7]. Without supplying the blind with the information about the environment they are unable to live fully independently and what is most important they are unsafe while travelling between locations especially in unfamiliar environments and almost every blind person depends only on a white stick and remaining senses in those situations. Naturally, devices and systems for navigating visual impaired people exist [8], although their main goal is to help with obstacles avoidance rather than create the model of the surrounding environment in the way that blind people could rely on, while moving for instance, inside an unknown room - even in the dark. State of the art The model of the close environment should be as detailed as possible. Which information would be passed to the blind person is subjective and this aspect is supposed to be customizable. N[...]

Mobile Safety System for the Blind


  There are many devices on the market that help the visual impaired people to walk in unknown urban environment [1- 4]. Numerous research and tests have been carried out in Special Educational Centre for Blind and Partially Sighted Children in Kraków. The results show there is still one major problem that needs to be solved. This problem concerns holes and road excavations in the ground and small yet very dangerous hanging obstacles which a blind person can encounter - Fig. 1. A device has to be designed to help the visual impaired people deal with the types of dangerous situations mentioned above There are devices designed especially for the visual impaired people that inform them about some obstacles and free space; for instance one device can inform if a seat in a train is occupied or not or if an elevator door is open or not. However, there is no such a device that could inform about holes and road excavations, especially the ones that have recently occurred on a daily road from a blind person’s home to their work place, damages in stairs or open space between an edge of a train platform and tracks [5]. Holes and road excavations are usually marked but it is very hard for blind people to spot and detect them. That is why any road hole is a serious danger for them. With some help of an electronic device for blind people or just a simple white stick, a blind person is able to determine if there is a hole ahead. But the problem is th[...]

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