Aiming to help people who can’t see find a simpler way to get around, designer Noam Klopper has introduced the Visually Impaired Assistant (VIA).
The VIA is a pair of metal devices that fit around the edges of the hands and are designed to give feedback based on a individual’s position relative both to stationary objects and things like large moving vehicles that one may want to avoid.
Making use of Video Motion Detection (VMD) technology, four tiny cameras, a voice operated GPS and a whole heap of style, the VIA is designed to both look and work smooth as butter.
The devices themselves – one for each hand – are wireless and can be charged at home using a wireless mat. When a user wants to go out for a stroll, they simply need to affix the devices to each hand and speak their chosen destination aloud. Using two vibration mechanisms, the VIA guides users away from things that will kill or maim them and instead down the gentle path to their destination.
While the device is a bold step in the right direction, there are a number of potential problems that leap to mind. First and foremost is the fact that this is not a stick.
The simple truth is that while a cane or stick is horribly low-tech, it can accurately detect obstacles by whacking into them. While the VIA should also detect things, there is always a concern that it will a) run out of power or b) go horribly, horribly wrong.
Another concern is how the device has to be used in order to function properly. According to the outline, a user needs to enter a destination for the VIA to property guide them – but what if they just want to go out for a walk?
Hopefully, the collision detection sensors and vibration will still work, or our intrepid, visually impaired explorer will simply be wearing very fashionable jewelry.
It will be hard to look stylish, however, should they run face-first into a pole.
Via Inventor Spot