White cane gets a high tech update

For many years, the white cane has helped millions of blind people move around independently and comfortably.

Now it has received a much needed high-tech update thanks to researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The team felt there was need to remove some of its limitations. For example, the cane sometimes comes in contact with other people, and it cannot identify different kinds of furniture. Nor can it tell whether or not a chair is occupied.

The new technology uses a 3-D camera, a belt with separately controllable vibrational motors, and an electronic Braille interface. The system also has a sensor belt, with five vibrating motors evenly spaced around its forward half, and a Braille interface worn at the user’s side.

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