Though there have been a lot of technological advances aimed at helping the blind see and navigate the world, the best accessory is still a cane. A recent Tech Xplore article discussed a new system developed by researchers at the Center for Digital Technology and Management at the University of Munich that could likely replace canes. The system consists of a haptic feedback sleeve and goggle system that allows blind people “see” with their arm.
The goggles are outfitted with dual infrared cameras that create a 3D stereoscopic image of the area in front of the wearer. The visual data is sent to a small computer that translates it to haptic data and then sends it to the sleeve. The interior of the sleeve contains a 5x5 array of pads that press against the forearm and vibrate to communicate the visual data. The system doesn’t use the wearer’s hands or ears, leaving them available to also assist in navigation.