This Intelligent Walking Stick Makes Life Much Easier For Visually Impaired Persons

Countless attempts have been made to help blind people in society, and today’s technology has brought an absolute change in their lives.

According to the famous scientist and philosopher Aristotle, our knowledge of the outside world depends on five sensory organs and most people would argue that our eyes are probably the most important one of them. 

Visually-impaired people are those who suffer either completely or partially from eye sight issues. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 285 million people around the world are visually impaired, and among them 39 million are completely blind. 

Countless attempts have been made to help blind people in society, and today’s technology has brought an absolute change in their lives. 

After all, the very purpose of technology from its birth has been to assist human beings and make their life better.

These days we are talking about flying cars but visually impaired persons have been using just plain white sticks. A blind stick is an easily recognizable special device that has been used by visually impaired people for centuries. It’s traditionally a white stick that’s used as a tool for directing them when they move and walk. It helps to locate and identify any obstacles or changes in their path, making it easier to navigate around. 

The traditional blind stick, while incredibly useful, still presents some limitations that can be very easily solved with modern technology. 

This brings us to the smart blind sticks of today, which are developed by using different components that work in tandem including an Arduino microcontroller, ultrasonic sensor, water sensor, heat sensor, a push button and a buzzer. 

The smart stick helps visually impaired persons during their walk, by providing an alarm if any hurdle is detected within the set range. 

This not only helps them detect and avoid obstacles ahead of time, but can also help them create a virtual mental map of their surroundings from a distance.  

Ultrasonic sensor and Water sensor for smart stick (from left to right)Image credit: Google images
Ultrasonic sensor and Water sensor for smart stick (from left to right)Image credit: Google images
Ultrasonic sensor and Water sensor (from left to right)Image credit: Google images

An Arduino is basically a microcontroller – a tiny sized computer with an internally contained CPU and RAM that is used for data analysis and control purposes. 

An Arduino microcontroller board not only contains on board power supply, but also USB port to communicate with PC and can be programmed accordingly by using an Arduino software named IDE(integrated development environment). 

Arduinos offer a wide range of applications. A larger number of people are using Arduino boards for developing sensors and instruments for use in scientific research.

Circuit diagram, smart stick
Arduino Board   Image Courtesy: Google Images

Sound waves that have frequencies above the audible range for humans (20-20,000 Hertz) are termed as ultrasonic waves. 

Ultrasonic sensors provide an easy method of distance measurement by using these ultrasonic waves to measure the distances between two points. On a smart blind stick, they can help detect how far away an object or an obstacle is. 

Ultrasonic waves are emitted from the sensor head known as transmitter, which also receives the waves reflected back from the target. 

A water sensor is used to detect the presence of water and provide an alert in time for path change. This component has a high sensitivity ratio and low power consumption which is the biggest advantage of this module.

circuit Diagram. Smart blind stick
Circuit Diagram

The technology behind smart sticks is upgrading day by day. The product has a great scope, and promises convenience and ease that can be achieved for really vulnerable members of society. 

It is a really accurate device and large scale production can effectively bring down prices and improve design.

The best part is that the system is neither too bulky nor heavy to prove a hindrance for long journeys, and it also does not require any special training.

References:

https://www.who.int/blindness/publications/globaldata/en/#:~:text=Globally%20the%20number%20of%20people,blindness%20is%20cataract%20(51%25).

https://www.ijareeie.com/upload/2017/march/57_ULTRASONIC.pdf

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/23311916.2019.1692468?af=R&

Also, Read: Evolution of artificial Intelligence inn healthcare

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