Toyota is researching new ways of helping blind and visually impaired people enjoy greater freedom, independence and confidence with a new wearable mobility device. Called Project Blaid, it reflects the company’s commitment to help everyone enjoy the benefits of mobility.
The device will help fill the gaps left by canes, guide dogs and basic GPS devices by giving users more information about their surroundings. Worn around the shoulders, it will help them better navigate indoor spaces, such as office buildings and shopping malls, by identifying features such as escalators, stairs, doors and toilet facilities.
A camera detects the user’s surroundings and communicates information through speakers and vibration motors. In turn, the user will be able to interact with the device using voice recognition and control buttons. Toyota plans to develop the device with integrated mapping, object identification and facial recognition functions.
Simon Nagata, Toyota North America Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer, said: “Project BLAID is one example of how Toyota is leading the way to the future of mobility, when getting around will be about more than just cars. We want to extend the freedom of mobility for all, no matter their circumstance, location or ability.”
Doug Moore, Toyota Partner Robotics Manager, added: “Toyota is about more than just the great cars and trucks we build. We believe we have a role to play in addressing mobility challenges, including helping people with limited mobility to do more. We believe this project has the potential to enrich the lives of people who are blind and visually impaired.”
A short video previewing the technology is available at TheToyotaEffect.com, showing a young blind man testing an early-stage version of the device.
The Toyota Effect campaign highlights how Toyota collaborates with other businesses, non-profit organisations and others to have a positive impact on people, society and the environment. Previous videos have shown how Toyota shares its manufacturing expertise, for example its partnership with Yellowstone National Park in the USA to provide zero emissions power at remote ranger station using old hybrid vehicle batteries.