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Toyota tech aids visually impaired

Mar 04, 2017

Project BLAID — a wearable device for the blind or partially sighted — is the latest milestone in Toyota’s quest for a future where mobility is enjoyed by all. The result of four years of collaboration between Toyota engineers, the Toyota Partner Robot group, leading organizations and members of the blind community, the prototype is a hands-free, horseshoe-shaped device that sits around the user’s shoulders.

It’s equipped with technology that can detect surrounding objects and signage, and identify restrooms, escalators, elevators, doors and familiar storefront logos. By doing so, the wearable device can help users better explore indoor spaces such as airports, office buildings and shopping malls. Future iterations will integrate mapping, object identification and facial recognition technologies.

By providing blind or partially sighted people with more information about their surroundings, Toyota believes the device will help fill the gap left by canes, dogs and basic GPS devices. “We want to extend the freedom of mobility for all, no matter their circumstance, location or ability,” said Simon Nagata, executive vice president and chief administrative officer, Toyota Motor North America. You can get a look at an early version of the device by watching a brief video at TheToyotaEffect.com

At one point in the video, a young man who is blind, and testing the device, says, “the ability to just get up and leave whenever you want and go wherever you want will be awesome. BLAID could change my life.”

It’s just one more example of how Toyota is going beyond making great cars and trucks and enriching people’s lives throughout society.