RESEARCH

We conducted a field research in blind institutions. There were 6 months of weekly iterations of testing and development of the solution. During this period four prototypes of which have undergone numerous changes until we got a final version and were able to test it. Also we performed interviews with volunteers from some institutions for the blind in Brazil. In total 48 interviewees were volunteers, 34 iterations and almost 163 university volunteers involved in the data collection process.

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PROBLEM

Based on the analysis of all these data and collected feedbacks in the interviews we found the main mobility problem faced by the visually impaired today. We understand that there are two major types of obstacles and we classified them in LOWER-BODY and UPPER-BODY obstacles. We discovered that for most of the blind, LOWER-BODY obstacles are not a problem because their canes´ covers a sufficient distance for their safety. However, we discovered that the UPPER-BODY obstacles are responsible for most of accidents involving blind, because these obstacles are arranged above the range of the cane, and therefore cannot be identified. Examples of this type of obstacles include: public telephones, signs, buildings and some types of trees.

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SOLUTION

Smart glasses for the visually impaired with a focus on upper-body obstacle detection. The main idea is to promote the social inclusion of these people, giving more comfort and safety in their mobility. Our intention is to bring an experience of more accessible city to an improvement in their quality of life. We use the ultrasonic sensors, capturing an angle of 120°, to identify possible obstacles of everything that comes in front of the user. The user is then notified of possible obstacles by means of bracelets with vibracalls, indicating the best way forward. Also, we intend to collect data on the quality of the streets, calculating the level of accessibility of the areas and notifying user by sending it to a social network that can create roads recommendation.

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Other important things we have learnt

Blind people do not want to draw too much attention. They prefer a device that is discrete and comfortable.


Big part of the blind population in Brazil does not have financial condition to buy electronic canes.



In Brazil there is a law that ensures accessibility of all public or private places for the visually impaired.


The type of feedback (alert of obstacle) is very important to them and needs to be configurable and customizable.


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