System with a haptic sleeve and infrared glasses with an Intel RealSense D415 3D camera will replace a cane for the blind

Engineers from the Technical University of Munichdeveloped an efficient navigation system for blind and visually impaired people. The invention consists of two elements. First, it's a pair of 3D printed glasses. Similar to motion tracking systems in VR headsets, they use cameras to record a stereoscopic image of the environment to build a 3D map.

Researchers used an Intel RealSense cameraD415, which captures infrared radiation, which allows the system to work at night and form a three-dimensional image with a resolution of 1280 × 720 and a frame rate of up to 90 frames per second. The system was tested with a resolution of 640×480 at 6 frames to improve computational performance.

Obstacle data around the userare transmitted to a special sleeve with a vibration lining, which ensures the transmission of information about the presence of an obstacle using tactile communication. The vibration intensity indicates the distance to the obstacle. The sleeve area is divided into 25 sectors (5x5), each of which has an independent vibration drive. The use of infrared cameras significantly increases the accuracy and sensitivity of the system compared to ultrasonic sensors.

The system has two modes of operation:indoors with a maximum detection range of three meters and outdoors with a minimum detection range of two meters to detect obstacles in the distance. Thus, the device can work in addition to a cane.

Volunteers who tested the system succeededcorrectly navigate in 98.6% of cases with vibration of only one of the motors and up to 70% of cases in more difficult situations with multiple tactile feedback. The researchers intend to continue to improve their invention and hope to tweak the object recognition engine to generate routes to help navigate open spaces.