Toyota unveils wearable device for blind and visually impaired

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Toyota is developing a wearable device for blind and visually impaired people that will enhance their freedom, independence and confidence. Called Project BLAID, it is part of The Toyota Effect through which Toyota collaborates with other companies, non-profit organisations, and others on socially useful projects

The device, which will enter beta testing soon, will help fill the gaps left by canes, dogs and basic GPS devices by providing users with more information about their surroundings. Worn around their shoulders, it will help users better navigate indoor spaces, such as office buildings and shopping malls, by helping them identify everyday features, including bathrooms, escalators, stairs and doors.

The device will be equipped with cameras that detect the user’s surroundings and communicate information to him or her through speakers and vibration motors. Users, in turn, will be able to interact with the device through voice recognition and buttons. Toyota plans to eventually integrate mapping, object identification and facial recognition technologies.

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.

said Simon Nagata, Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer, Toyota Motor North America.

Toyota is 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 do more. We believe this project has the potential to enrich the lives of people who are blind and visually impaired.

said Doug Moore, Manager, Partner Robotics, Toyota.

As part of Project BLAID, Toyota is launching an employee engagement campaign that invites team members company-wide to submit videos of common indoor landmarks. These videos will subsequently be used by Project BLAID developers to ‘teach’ the device to better recognise these landmarks.

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