Goggles for the blind. Sounds impossible? Well, Kunal Bhat, an employee with Tech Mahindra, has made this impossible thing possible. He got the idea for the goggles when he bumped straight into a wall while climbing down a dimly lit staircase lost in his thoughts. This experience of his got him thinking about all the hardships the visually impaired people might have to face on a daily basis because of their condition. He decided not just to think and forget but to do something productive for these people and this is how he came up with the goggles.
The goggles have been incubated by Bhat’s employer, Tech Mahindra. The goggles are the company’s first innovation product. They have also filed a patent for the goggles and have no immediate plans of putting them on sale. Further, the company has plans of making the goggles a part of its corporate social responsibility over the next one year.
The company is currently running a pilot along with two involuntary organisations in Bangalore. Around six visually impaired people from non-governmental organizations have also volunteered to be a part of the user trials.
The phone camera scans the user’s environment and analysis the potential object of collision using algorithm. It calculates their distance and position from the user and passed on this information wirelessly to the smart glass.
The google’s glasses are equipped with haptic feedback. So if there’s a chair to the user’s left and another to the right, the feedback mechanism will give the user a “feel” of how the world in a radius of 5ft is organized around him or her through a vibration.
The user can get a continuous “feel” of things in his or her path and thus form a 3D mental image of surroundings. He or she will also be able to anticipate obstacles much earlier than the white cane.
The next version of the goggles is expected to have features like audio feedback, context-sensitive analysis, location and direction feedback, cloudbased analysis, collective intelligence and inter-device communication.
The goggles recently made Bhat win a contest for the best innovative design concept. The goggles will help the visually impaired as by wearing them, they will be able to sense things in their path and then form a three dimensional mental image of the surroundings while anticipating obstacles much earlier than they could with the white cane.
The goggles have been paired with a smartphone which has a specialized smart glass. The Smartphone’s camera has the task to scan the user’s environment and then analyze it for any potential objects of collision by making use of algorithms. It then calculates the object’s position from the user and conveys the information to the smart glass wirelessly.
Tech Mahindra sees a great potential in the product and is looking at it as an investment. “Any big company will look at next leap in technology or rather, at spaces where the next billion dollars will come from,” said Sirisha Voruganti, Global head-innovation, Tech Mahindra in a statement to the Economic Times.
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