Blind Assist Twig

A smart cane designed to assist visually challenged people of all ages and elderly people to walk seamlessly in outdoor spaces.

Project Brief

my role

(Individual Project)

tools used

The goal of the project was to create a smart cane by adding technological feedback to a visually impaired person's white cane. This is the first design project I designed as part of undergraduate project

User Research, User Observation Ideation, Design & Assembly, Electronics, Programming

type

Product Design, IOT, Universal Design, Assistive Technology

Photoshop, SketchBook Pro, Arduino Uno, Electronic Components 

Timeline

October - November 2014

Design Challange

How to re-design the traditional white cane and give a visually impaired person and elderly people a better experience to seamlessly walk outdoors with confidence and among the vehicular traffic on an everyday basis?

In India, Pedestrians, cyclists, motorized two-wheeler riders, and pillion passengers constitute the largest number of those killed, admitted to hospital, and disabled in road accidents. “They are the most vulnerable road users in India, unlike the developed world where motorists are affected the most” - Amit Gupta, additional professor of trauma surgery and critical care at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi.

Reference:

A Vector Representation of Blind and Elderly people crossing the road, absence of precautions on India Roads is the problem

Design Solution

BAT, Blind Assist Twig is an easy to use, friendly smart cane designed for a visually impaired person to walk around easily by getting the feedback from the sensors attached and communicate with surroundings and people using  (LED) gestures.

The Design Process

Research

Observation and PACT analysis were the research strategies followed in the design of the blind assist twig. Also, a couple of user interviews were done and a blindfold experiment to self-experience the scenarios was done to help list all constraints and opportunities

Prototyping

Once Doing all the product sketches and concept designs for the physical modal and went on to prototype the product using the light-weighted materials and using the Arduino development board, LED's, PIR sensors. 

Visually impaired people range from all age groups, so the length of the cane should be flexible and fit all heights.

People

Avoiding obstacles while walking around and alerting vehicle drivers while crossing the roads

Activites

Contexts

Users have to walk around in crowded areas and cross the roads at heavy vehicular traffic areas.

Technologies

An open-source development board such as Arduino and haptic sensors, LED's can be used to develop the cane.

Ideation

Brainstorming ideas were done post empathizing the situations and scenarios, product sketchings are done to maintain the balance between aesthetics and comfort. Then moved on to listing and prioritizing important features for the product to emphasize the uses.

UserTesting

The Prototype was field-tested using the blindfold experiment and then given to a visually impaired person to use in outdoor situations. The results and feedback are noted and the scope to BAT project can be expanded in terms of both usability and interactions.

Final Product

The final design consists of a telescopic/antenna modeled design and so named it a twig as the length is adjustable to suit all age groups from children to elderly. 

In the research, we came to know that blind people have sharp haptic sensitivity. Hence, to make all the alerts regarding the surroundings, we include micro-vibration actuators on the handle ball to show the directions.

The LED's are arranged on the rod to alert the vehicular traffic and request for help from other people when required. All the electronic circuits, sensors are embedded inside the arrangement. 

Future Scope

BAT project is focused on designing a simplistic alerting system for visually impaired, but it has a future scope to overcome the limitations of user path navigation and this can be achieved by integrating a Bluetooth headset for the user to hear, which can help the user to navigate the directions. And the haptic arrangement helps the person to guide and avoid the obstacles.

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© ABHINAV SIKHARAM 2020