Gadgets for humans

Toyota’s wearable looks like a scarf and helps the blind navigate indoors

Although Toyota is best known for building cars, it’s been working on a project over the past four years to enable a different kind of mobility.

The company’s engineers in collaboration with the Toyota Partner Robot Group are developing Project BLAID, a wearable for the blind and vision impaired that helps them navigate indoor spaces by detecting signage and doorways and guiding them to their destinations.

In its current form, Project BLAID is a horseshoe-shaped device that’s meant to be worn around your shoulders, kind of like an inflexible plastic scarf. It will be fitted with cameras to help identify things like escalators, exits, bathrooms and storefronts.

Toyota says the wearable will be able to communicate information to users through speakers and vibration motors, and receive voice commands and input through buttons.

The company also plans to later integrate mapping, object identification and facial recognition capabilities into the device.

Project BLAID is currently in its early stages and is isn’t even ready for beta testing yet. I’ll be interested to see what other technologies Toyota integrates into it.

We already have Bluetooth beacons that can guide people around indoor spaces through their smartphones and Lenovo is set to release a Project Tango-based handset which will use Google’s mapping tech to get accurate 3D representations of the world around it.

Toyota hasn’t set a release date, pricing or availability for Project BLAID as yet.

➤ Project BLAID

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Published March 8, 2016 — 06:26 UTC