Toyota Motor Corporation says it is working to develop a wearable device for the blind and visually-impaired people to improve their mobility and help them better understand their surroundings.
The project which the company called Project BLAID is currently under development in Toyota’s Robotic Division.
The device will be worn by users around their shoulders and it will help them better navigate indoor spaces, such as office buildings and shopping malls, by helping them identify everyday features, including restrooms, 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 says.
The company says it plans to eventually integrate mapping, object identification and facial recognition technologies.
Simon Nagata, Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer, Toyota Motor North America says “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.”
“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,” said Doug Moore, Manager, Partner Robotics, Toyota. “We believe this project has the potential to enrich the lives of people who are blind and visually impaired.”
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 recognize these landmarks.