Toyota’s Project BLAID wearable wants to help the blind ‘see’

8 Mar 2016

Toyota is working on a new experimental wearable called Project BLAID that, worn around the shoulders, helps blind people ‘see’ their surroundings using an array of advanced sensors.

The Project BLAID device looks like an advanced safety harness at first glance, but is being designed with the aim of helping fill the gaps left by canes, dogs and basic GPS devices by providing users with more information about their surroundings.

When placed around their shoulders, it’s hoped that 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.

Future Human

To do this, the Project BLAID device will be equipped with cameras that detect the user’s surroundings and then relay the information to him or her through speakers and vibration motors.

Addressing mobility challenges

The user can then interact with the device through voice recognition and buttons but, when Toyota actually has a commercial model available, it will aim to integrate mapping, object identification and facial recognition technologies to give a better overall picture for those with no vision.

Speaking of the project, Toyota’s manager of its partner robotics division, Doug Moore, said: “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.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic