Project BLAID

While best known as an automaker, Toyota is also making significant inroads (no pun intended) in relation to indoor mobility for the vision impaired.

Project BLAID, a technology which the company has developed in partnership with the Toyota Partner Robot Group, is set to help individuals with vision loss easily navigate through indoor spaces by detecting doorways, obstacles, and even signage.

“[…]many people across the world face mobility challenges—from the man whose village has limited access to public transportation, to the woman whose outdated city infrastructure causes her to be stuck in traffic everyday. Those who face difficulties getting around due to visual impairments are no different. While great strides have been made, there are still opportunities to help visually impaired people move more freely and independently,” Toyota explains on their Project BLAID website.

Transformational Technology

The current prototype follows a horseshoe shaped device that rests around the user’s shoulders, making it a truly wearable, hands-free device that’s as unobtrusive as possible.

Right now, the device can detect signs in relation to restrooms, escalators, stairs, elevators, exit signs, and also familiar storefront logos.

It will come equipped with cameras that will be used to detect immediate surroundings and interact with the user through a host of methods—voice recognition, buttons, vibration, and speakers. This would ultimately make it easier for the visually challenged to navigate airports, office building, malls...basically any indoor space.

Moving forward, the technology hopes to integrate mapping, object identification, and facial recognition to make the device more functional and intuitive.

Beta testing for the device will apparently begin soon.

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