Toyota wearable deviceToyota, the giant automaker is embarking on an ambitious project: the creation of a wearable device for the blind to better understand their environment.

Known mainly for its cars, the Toyota constructor adds a string to his bow with the babe project, a device designed to provide more freedom of movement for the blind and the visually impaired. Objective is complete devices such as canes, dogs and GPS for the blind more than information about their environment.

What enable them better to move in office buildings and shopping malls by identifying important elements such as stairs, elevators, doors, escalators or the toilet.

The device comes in the form of a rigid scarf that blind carries on his shoulders and goes behind his head. The device is equipped with cameras and communicates with the user by a system of speakers and buzzers. It has also buttons and a voice command to receive orders.

For now, the device exists only in the form of a prototype but Toyota plans to equip it, subsequently, a Bluetooth interface, to make contact with a smartphone. The constructor has also enrich it’s advanced features such as mapping, identifying objects and even the recognition of faces. It also encourages its employees to send videos of places important to enrich the device learning phase, to especially recognize objects of everyday life. Toyota, the babe project should move quickly in phase Beta, but so far no release date has been announced.

The cameras capture a space. An algorithm analyzes the images and certain features such as doors, elevators, stairs or signs to the exit or the toilets. it passed by voice and vibration of the carrier to the desired location. The system is operated with buttons or by voice.

Toyota wants Blaid – the name is a combination of blind and Aid – still expanding: In future, added features such as facial and object recognition or mapping. Thus, the system detects objects better, Toyota has called on his staff, the Blaid developers to provide videos of signs and other landmarks available.

At present, the system is still in the stage of a prototype. A larger test is planned later this year. Whether and when it will come as a commercial product on the market, is not yet known.

Visual impairment doesn’t stop Ryan’s Bonspiel

It was a typical day at the Cornwall Curling Centre with plenty of action on the ice – except some of the curlers couldn’t see the rocks.

The annual Ryan’s Bonspiel raised over $3,000 in support of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind on Saturday (Mar. 5).

The event is named after Ryan Herman, 12, who lost sight in his left eye shortly after being born.

Herman can do everything a child with vision in both eyes can. He enjoys skiing and snowboarding, playing ball hockey, volleyball, and soccer, yet he still wonders if being visually impaired will impact his future.

“I don’t think about my vision, I just do it,” said Herman.

Bonspiel chair and Herman’s grandmother Barb Champagne told Seaway News CNIB has done wonders by helping him successfully adjust to being visually impaired, especially when he was first diagnosed.

Champagne said all proceeds from the bonspiel stay in the Cornwall area for vision rehabilitation services, such as developing independent living skills, teaching braille, and navigation with a white cane.

A total of 18 teams registered, including the Kingston Blind Curlers.

“Having a visual impairment doesn’t stop them,” said Champagne, “in fact, they’re usually winnning.”

She noted that attendance took a slight dip this year since the bonspiel landed on the same day as the 2016 Tim Hortons Brier in Ottawa.

Julie Herman, Ryan’s mom, thanked the Cornwall Curling Centre, event sponsors, and bonspiel participants for their continued support.