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Modern Robotic White Cane Brings Navigation Assistance for Visually Impaired Community

Equipped with a colour 3D camera, an inertial measurement sensor, and its own onboard computer, a newly improved robotic cane could offer blind and visually impaired users a new way to navigate indoors. When paired with a building’s architectural drawing, the device can accurately guide a user to the desired location with sensory and auditory cues, while simultaneously helping the user avoid obstacles like boxes, furniture, and overhangs. The development of the device was co-funded by the National Institutes of Health’s National Eye Institute (NEI) and the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB).

“Many people in the visually impaired community consider the white cane to be their best and most functional navigational tool, despite it being century-old technology. For sighted people, technologies like GPS-based applications have revolutionised navigation. We’re interested in creating a device that closes many of the gaps in functionality for white cane users.”

– Lead author of the study

While there are cell phone-based applications that can provide navigation assistance—helping blind users stay within crosswalks, for example—large spaces inside buildings are a major challenge, especially when those spaces are unfamiliar.

Earlier versions of the robotic cane began tackling this problem by incorporating building floorplans; the user could tell the cane whether he or she wished to go, and the cane—by a combination of auditory cues and a robotic rolling tip—could guide the user to their destination. But when used over long distances, the inaccuracies in the user’s location could build up, eventually leaving the user at an incorrect location.

To help correct this issue, the researchers have added a colour depth camera to the system. Using infrared light, much like a mobile phone’s front-facing camera, the system can determine the distance between the cane and other physical objects, including the floor, features like doorways and walls, as well as furniture and other obstacles.

Using this information, along with data from an inertial sensor, the cane’s onboard computer can map the user’s precise location to the existing architectural drawing or floorplan, while also alerting the user to obstacles in their path.

While some cell phone apps can give people auditory navigation instructions, when going around a corner for example, but people do not know how to turn just the right amount. The rolling tip on the robotic cane can guide people to turn at just the right point and exactly the right number of degrees, whether it’s 15 degrees or 90. This version can also alert them to overhanging obstacles, which a standard white cane cannot.

There are still a few things to be worked out before the system will be market-ready—it is still too heavy for regular use, for example, and the team is looking for a way to slim down the device. Nevertheless, with the ability to easily switch between its automated mode and a simpler, non-robotic “white cane mode,” This device could provide a key independence tool for the blind and visually impaired, without losing the characteristics of the white cane that have stood the test of time.

U.S. researchers have been developing robotic technologies to help people with disabilities. As reported by OpenGov Asia, U.S. Researchers have now developed an alternative approach that they believe could offer much more precise control of prosthetic limbs. After inserting small magnetic beads into muscle tissue within the amputated residuum, they can precisely measure the length of a muscle as it contracts, and this feedback can be relayed to a bionic prosthesis within milliseconds.

In a new study appearing today in Science Robotics, the researchers tested their new strategy, called magnetomicrometry (MM), and showed that it can provide fast and accurate muscle measurements in animals. They hope to test the approach in people with amputation within the next few years.

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Qlik’s vision is a data-literate world, where everyone can use data and analytics to improve decision-making and solve their most challenging problems. A private company, Qlik offers real-time data integration and analytics solutions, powered by Qlik Cloud, to close the gaps between data, insights and action. By transforming data into Active Intelligence, businesses can drive better decisions, improve revenue and profitability, and optimize customer relationships. Qlik serves more than 38,000 active customers in over 100 countries.

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As a Titanium Black Partner of Dell Technologies, CTC Global Singapore boasts unparalleled access to resources.

Established in 1972, we bring 52 years of experience to the table, solidifying our position as a leading IT solutions provider in Singapore. With over 300 qualified IT professionals, we are dedicated to delivering integrated solutions that empower your organization in key areas such as Automation & AI, Cyber Security, App Modernization & Data Analytics, Enterprise Cloud Infrastructure, Workplace Modernization and Professional Services.

Renowned for our consulting expertise and delivering expert IT solutions, CTC Global Singapore has become the preferred IT outsourcing partner for businesses across Singapore.

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Planview has one mission: to build the future of connected work. Our solutions enable organizations to connect the business from ideas to impact, empowering companies to accelerate the achievement of what matters most. Planview’s full spectrum of Portfolio Management and Work Management solutions creates an organizational focus on the strategic outcomes that matter and empowers teams to deliver their best work, no matter how they work. The comprehensive Planview platform and enterprise success model enables customers to deliver innovative, competitive products, services, and customer experiences. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, with locations around the world, Planview has more than 1,300 employees supporting 4,500 customers and 2.6 million users worldwide. For more information, visit www.planview.com.

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SIRIM is a premier industrial research and technology organisation in Malaysia, wholly-owned by the Minister​ of Finance Incorporated. With over forty years of experience and expertise, SIRIM is mandated as the machinery for research and technology development, and the national champion of quality. SIRIM has always played a major role in the development of the country’s private sector. By tapping into our expertise and knowledge base, we focus on developing new technologies and improvements in the manufacturing, technology and services sectors. We nurture Small Medium Enterprises (SME) growth with solutions for technology penetration and upgrading, making it an ideal technology partner for SMEs.

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HashiCorp provides infrastructure automation software for multi-cloud environments, enabling enterprises to unlock a common cloud operating model to provision, secure, connect, and run any application on any infrastructure. HashiCorp tools allow organizations to deliver applications faster by helping enterprises transition from manual processes and ITIL practices to self-service automation and DevOps practices. 

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IBM is a leading global hybrid cloud and AI, and consulting services provider, helping clients in more than 175 countries capitalize on insights from their data, streamline business processes, reduce costs and gain the competitive edge in their industries. Nearly 3,800 government and corporate entities in critical infrastructure areas such as financial services, telecommunications and healthcare rely on IBM’s hybrid cloud platform and Red Hat OpenShift to affect their digital transformations quickly, efficiently, and securely. IBM’s breakthrough innovations in AI, quantum computing, industry-specific cloud solutions and business services deliver open and flexible options to our clients. All of this is backed by IBM’s legendary commitment to trust, transparency, responsibility, inclusivity, and service. For more information, visit www.ibm.com