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Navigational Assistance for the Visually Impaired: Bridging the Gap with Innovation

Navigating the world without sight can feel like maneuvering through a maze with unexpected turns. With deep respect for the visually impaired community, we aimed to harness the power of technology to make their journey safer and more intuitive. After thorough real-world observations, we introduce the CYBORG ARTIFACT SMART WHITE CAN—a companion device designed to guide and assist. Dive into our journey of compassion and innovation, and envision a world where everyone navigates with confidence.

Project name: Smart White Cane

Project type: Research, product design 

Duration: Apr 2022 (2 weeks)

Team: Teng Wong, David Chen, Yunhan Xiao

Tools: Figma, Midjourney

Understanding the Obstacles

On a sunny afternoon, I blindfolded myself and walked around different locations and scenes on the UCSD campus with a $13 white cane I bought from Amazon, the cheapest option I found. My fellow researchers and I believed that a campus should be the most disability-friendly place, but in reality, I was filled with fear and anxiety throughout the process. I ended up injuring my knee, deeply empathizing once again with the challenges my user face.

Experience Summary

In our quest, we deeply felt these challenges and sought to address them, keeping compassion at the heart of our innovations.

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The Stairway Dilemma

Navigating stairs with just a white cane can be daunting. Beyond the physical barriers, there's the silent fear of unintentionally causing harm to others.

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Risks from Speedy Passersby

Places like the Price Center Loop pose unique challenges. Amidst the rush, a traditional cane may not always catch the swift pace of our modern world.

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Treading Uneven Paths and Crowded Walkways

Imagine stepping onto the bustling crosswalks near Geisel Library. Amidst the sea of people and the unpredictable terrain, every step requires trust and hope.

SMART white cane

In crafting the smart white cane, we prioritized empathy. We aimed for a solution that's not just technologically advanced, but also feels like a trusted friend by one's side.

01

A Glimpse into the System

Imagine a camera guiding the way. Our system sees the world in real-time, transforming those visuals into a voice that whispers guidance into the user's ear.

03

Cloud's Embrace: The App and Beyond

Harnessing the power of cutting-edge image recognition, our system paints a detailed picture of the surroundings. But instead of overwhelming with details, it simplifies and vocalizes the most crucial information.

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02

Heart of the Device: Main Features

At its core is a detachable camera, positioned to capture the world from the user's perspective. Accompanying it are sensitive sensors that feel the environment's pulse - from detecting a speeding object to sensing objects within reach.

04

Listening and Speaking: The Earpiece

A gentle voice, always there. Through a Bluetooth earpiece, the system talks and listens, making navigation not just a task but a conversation. Together, they navigate the world, one step at a time.

PROTOTYPING

Simple concept design using figma

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Reflection

This was a two-week research project in which I deeply immersed myself in my users' experiences in the most direct manner possible, rapidly identifying their pain points and developing viable solutions. The final prototype might lack certain details, such as app development, integration methods, and additional signifier details. I eagerly anticipate revisiting this project in the future to develop it into a more comprehensive and effective solution.

Hope you enjoy my work!

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