Today, Fast Company featured a very smart navigational cane that uses existing technology to make the world a better place for the blind. Described in detail in the Co.Exist blog, The BlindSpot cane doubles as a smartphone and uses GPS and bluetooth technology, including location based services like Foursquare check-ins to help visually impaired people operate with more normalcy.
In addition to its smartphone capabilities, the white, sleek cane features an ultrasonic sensor that detects obstacles a normal ground-level sweep of a cane would miss. The BlindSpot cane senses it and beeps in the Bluetooth earpiece.
Its Foursquare integration is particularly nifty: When a friend checks in on Foursquare, the cane alerts the blind user to how far away the person is and how long it will take to reach them. The blind person can then call the friend, ignore the message or go find them using step-by-step directions.
The current prototype for the cane was developed by design student Selene Chew at the National University of Singapore. Check out a video below of the cane in action, produced for her NUS Industrial Design Final Year Thesis Project.