May 18, 2022

Dare Quill

The Real Estate Maniacs

NIH-funded present day “white cane” delivers navigation assistance to the 21st century

4 min read

News Launch

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Robotic cane with 3D digital camera can correctly manual consumer to selected spot, averting hurdles.

Equipped with a color 3D camera, an inertial measurement sensor, and its individual on-board computer system, a freshly 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 precisely guideline a user to a preferred locale with sensory and auditory cues, even though simultaneously aiding the person keep away from obstacles like boxes, furniture, and overhangs. Growth of the system was co-funded by the Nationwide Institutes of Health’s Nationwide Eye Institute (NEI) and the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB). Details of the current design and style were revealed in the journal IEEE/CAA Journal of Automatica Sinica.

“Many persons in the visually impaired group take into consideration the white cane to be their very best and most useful navigational resource, irrespective of it getting century-outdated technologies,” explained Cang Ye, Ph.D., guide author of the examine and professor of pc science at the University of Engineering at the Virginia Commonwealth College, Richmond. “For sighted individuals, technologies like GPS-based purposes have revolutionized navigation. We’re fascinated in producing a gadget that closes quite a few of the gaps in features for white cane end users.”

Although there are mobile phone-based mostly purposes that can supply navigation guidance – aiding blind customers continue to be inside of crosswalks, for illustration – significant spaces within buildings are a major challenge, especially when individuals areas are unfamiliar. Before variations of Ye’s robotic cane began tackling this trouble by incorporating building floorplans the consumer could tell the cane no matter if he or she wished to go, and the cane – by a blend of auditory cues and a robotic rolling idea – could manual the consumer to their desired destination. But when utilised above long distances, the inaccuracies in the user’s spot could construct up, eventually leaving the user at an incorrect area.

To support appropriate this issue, Ye and colleagues have included a colour depth digital camera to the technique. Applying infrared light, substantially like a mobile phone’s front-struggling with camera, the system can establish the length between the cane and other bodily objects, including the ground, features like doorways and partitions, as nicely as furniture and other hurdles. Utilizing this info, along with details from an inertial sensor, the cane’s onboard pc can map the user’s exact area to the present architectural drawing or floorplan, though also alerting the user to obstacles in their route.

“While some cell telephone applications can give persons auditory navigation guidelines, when going all around a corner for example, how do you know you have turned just the right amount?” reported Ye. “The rolling suggestion on our robotic cane can guidebook you to transform at just the right level and precisely the right quantity of levels, no matter whether it is 15 levels or 90. This version can also notify you to overhanging hurdles, which a common white cane are not able to.”

There are however a few kinks to be worked out in advance of the method will be industry-all set – it is even now too significant for common use, for instance, and Ye’s group is seeking for a way to trim down the product. Even so, with the potential to simply swap amongst its automated manner and a easier, non-robotic “white cane method,” Ye thinks this system could deliver a key independence instrument for the blind and visually impaired, devoid of dropping the features of the white cane that have stood the examination of time.

The study was funded by NEI and NIBIB as a result of grant EB018117.

 NEI qualified prospects the federal government’s research on the visible procedure and eye health conditions. NEI supports fundamental and clinical science courses to produce sight-preserving treatment plans and tackle particular desires of individuals with eyesight loss. For more information and facts, stop by

About the National Institutes of Well being (NIH):&#13
NIH, the nation’s professional medical exploration company, consists of 27 Institutes and Centers and is a ingredient of the U.S. Division of Overall health and Human Services. NIH is the main federal agency conducting and supporting primary, medical, and translational medical study, and is investigating the triggers, treatment options, and cures for both of those widespread and scarce disorders. For more info about NIH and its packages, visit

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Zhang H, Jin LQ, Ye C. “An RGB-D digital camera based visual positioning system for assistive navigation by a robotic navigation support,” IEEE/CAA J. Autom. Sinica. 2021. 8(8):1389-1400. doi:10.1109/JAS.2021.1004084


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