Today’s Solutions: March 03, 2024

Today, there are an estimated 10 million Americans who are either blind or visually impaired. The number worldwide stands at 250 million people. Most of them still use the standard white cane to assist their mobility needs, but this tool has remained unchanged for nearly 100 years and can sometimes pose a serious threat to the user’s safety.

Seeking to completely revolutionize the device’s functionality, start-up WeWalk has come up with a high-tech walking cane that has the power to help millions of people navigate the world without fearing for their safety. 

As a means of protecting people from low-hanging objects and obstacles above the chest level, the WeWalk smart cane uses an ultrasonic sensor to detect obstacles above the waist, and it alerts the user via in-hand vibration when these obstacles are nearby. 

While the classic long cane could only be used to sense low obstacles, this smart cane enables people to walk freely and securely, aware of things like overhead poles and street signs. Users can also customize the cane’s functionality, using the app to designate the distance at which they’re notified of detected obstacles. In addition to its greater range of obstacle detection, the smart cane pairs with a user’s smartphone and a variety of software, so they can ask for directions and be guided to the nearest bus stop or coffee shop.

What’s especially commendable about the start-up is that it operates on an open platform, meaning that the data that it’s gathering is available to help others better understand the needs of the blind and visually impaired community.

The company’s ultimate goal is to allow anyone the freedom to travel to unfamiliar neighborhoods, cities, or countries, regardless of sight. And it plans to do so by helping others develop more applications designed to maximize the accessibility to independent mobility for this community.

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