Students at Birmingham City University recently unveiled a cane that has built-in facial recognition software, allowing a visually impaired person to recognize a friend or family member up to 33 feet away.
The XploR cane has an SD card fitted into the cane itself, loaded with images of people that the user of the cane knows. A camera scans faces that come into view and compares them to the database of pictures on the SD card. When there’s a match the cane vibrates, and Bluetooth connects the cane to an audio device in the ear, which gives the user step-by-step directions, aided by built-in GPS.
It isn’t available yet–the researchers plan to do more testing of the device this year, optimizing the cane so that it is both easy to use and lightweight.
This isn’t the first team to try to update the white cane into a more active guide. Researchers at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock recently developed a cane that can guide people around obstacles also using audio instructions connected by Bluetooth.