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The gift of sight is one that most of us take for granted. According to data made available by the World Health Organisation (WHO), there are about 285 million visually impaired people worldwide. Out of these 285 million, 39 million are blind and 246 million have low vision.

In order to make the lives of these 285 million people a little easier, India's e-commerce giant Snapdeal has joined hands with Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi and Phoenix Medical Solutions, to launch SmartCane, an electronic travel aid that promises to offer the gift of independent mobility and safety to the visually impaired.

Smartcane device is an electronic travel aid which fits as handle of the white cane. As white cane can only detect obstacles up to knee height, Smartcane compliments its functionality by detecting obstacles from knee to head height. It detects obstacles using sonic waves and the presence of obstacles is conveyed through intuitive vibratory patterns. It is powered using rechargeable Li–ion battery like cell phone and can be used in both indoor and outdoor navigation modes. It has been designed to accommodate varying types of user grips which are commonly used by visually challenged.

The product is available for sale online exclusively via Snapdeal at a price of Rs 3,500.

Being hailed as a technological update on the ages old white cane being used by the visually impaired people around the globe, Smartcane makes use of ultrasonic ranging to detect obstacles above the knee-level. The cane comes with an ergonomic grip for comfortable holding and cane tapping purposes. It also has four intuitive vibratory patterns in order to rightfully convey the obstacle distance information to the visually impaired user. Further, in order to convey situations like battery level, charging status and sensor and vibratory failure etc., the Smartcane has sound indicators.

What makes the device even more special is the fact that it has been co-created with the user community and has the validation of over 300 visually impaired people from all across India.

As a part of the partnership, potential donors can also choose to donate SmartCane via Snapdeal’s Sunshine platform. The donated products will be shipped directly to NGO partner, Saksham.

“SmartCane is a fine example of technology solving real life problems of people, and we at Snapdeal take immense pride in bringing the latest innovations to the market. A smart product, SmartCane addresses the concern of independence and safety of those with visual impairment. We are confident that this product will be well received and our customers will also come forward to donate SmartCane to NGOs working with persons with visual impairment," said Tony Navin, Senior Vice President, Partnerships and Strategic Initiatives, Snapdeal at the product's launch.

People willing to donate these SmartCanes to the needy, can do the same via Snapdeal’s Sunshine platform. The donated SmartCanes are shipped directly to NGO partner, Saksham.

SmartCane boosts of having empowered about 10,000 visually impaired people in India till date.

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