According to the World 25 Health Organization, there are 285 million people who are visually impaired worldwide. Of those, 39 million people are blind, and 246 million have low or impaired vision. In the U.S. alone, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, more than 4.4 million people over 40 years of age are visually impaired and more than one million people of identified as being legally blind. Given the large number of individuals worldwide who suffer from blindness and visual impairment, there is a continued need for improved tools to assist the blind to navigate life and to mitigate some of the inherent difficulties that are associated with blindness and visual impairment. Current tools for the blind are still archaic in comparison to the rapid changing smart phone, Ipad and laptop computer.
The TRF is currently seeking an improvement to the traditional walking cane which has been relatively unchanged for years with the exception of folding and more lightweight models. The TRF has conceptualized a few possible enhancements to the cane. An improved version of this cane could be developed as part 1; however, conversations with leading experts have further emphasized that developing technologies outside of the cane may be the most appropriate position to take as the blind user tends to stay with his/ her cane and is not necessarily in favor of switching. One solution to this aspect could be a smart technology to better alert and aid in navigation.
The TRF has furthered efforts in the area of the blind and visually impaired by continuing its collaboration with National Federation of the Blind (NFB) and Brigham Young University (BYU). There are three undergraduate students who have been working on the project for over a year now and have completed their foundational curricula and have added more sensors to the cane to measure how the cane moves. The graduate has begun to detect objects in the environment using 3D cameras and eventually he will be able to apply a mathematical algorithm.
Progressing forward once a prototype has been developed BYU can take same to NFB for testing with Blind and Low Vision (BLV) individuals.
Statement of NeedPlease help our mission to develop innovative, affordable, and therapeutic medical solutions to address unmet global health needs, the TRF serves as a scientific platform for collaboration and a bridge between academia and industry. “Doing Science for the Right Reasons”.™
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