The cane provides auditory and vibratory alerts, as well as voice assistance
Spotted: The World Health Organization calls vision impairment “an enormous global financial burden”, with the associated costs of productivity losses estimated to be $411 billion (around €387 billion). Helping people with vision impairment become more independently mobile creates a chain of positive societal improvements, from more inclusive communities to more diverse workforces.
WeWALK, a mobility tech company that started in London and is now based in the USA, continuously develops innovative mobility assistance technologies. Springwise spotted the company’s launch back in 2018 with the introduction of the first version of the smart cane.
Now, working with the UK’s Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and Imperial College London, WeWALK is introducing its computer vision-enabled smart cane. The concept cane will read text from objects near the user, including bus route numbers and street signs.
The GPS-enabled smart cane already provided vibratory haptic alerts when objects were nearby, but now also has an accompanying app, auditory alerts, and local transit data, that helps the visually impaired achieve a far richer pedestrian experience than that of the analogue white cane.
Co-founder and CEO of WeWALK, Gökhan Meriçliler, explains: “We want to scale our business to reach a wider global audience and advance our technology to offer better, more meaningful information to visually impaired people, older people, and anyone that faces mobility challenges”.
Having recently secured £2 million (around $2.4 million) in venture funding, the company plans to make the computer vision-enabled version of the cane available sometime in 2024.
Other innovations Springwise has spotted that are helping people living with vision impairment include an AI-powered wearable that reads text aloud, and a new typeface that works for visually impaired readers.
Written By: Keely Khoury