Toyota is working to develop a wearable device that will enable people who are blind and visually impaired to do more with greater independence and confidence.
Called Project BLAID, the device will be worn around the shoulders and will help users better navigate indoor spaces, such as office buildings and shopping malls, by helping them identify everyday features, including restrooms, escalators, stairs and doors. According to Toyota, it will help fill the gaps left by canes, Guide Dogs and basic GPS units.
The device will be equipped with cameras that detect the user’s surroundings and communicate information to him or her through speakers and vibration motors. Users, in turn, will be able to interact with the device through voice recognition and buttons. Toyota plans to eventually integrate mapping, object identification and facial recognition technologies.
As part of Project BLAID, Toyota is launching an employee engagement campaign that invites team members company-wide to submit videos of common indoor landmarks. These videos will subsequently be used by Project BLAID developers to “teach” the device to better recognise these landmarks.
Simon Nagata, Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer, Toyota Motor North America, said “Project BLAID is one example of how Toyota is leading the way to the future of mobility, when getting around will be about more than just cars… We want to extend the freedom of mobility for all, no matter their circumstance, location or ability.”
A short video previewing the BLAID project is available at TheToyotaEffect.com.