VTT wearable sensor guides visually impaired
VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has developed a sensor device for the visually impaired that enables them to sense their environment and move around in a safer manner.
The ‘Guidesense‘ device is worn like a heart rate monitor, and it works with a radar system developed by VTT. It monitors obstacles in front of it and passes the information to the user through vibrations or voice feedback.
The device has been clinically tested by 25 visually impaired people in trials approved by the National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health (Valvira). The test group of 25 included 14 blind people, seven partially sighted and four who were deaf-blind.
“A clear majority of the testers felt that the radar improved their ability to perceive their environment and increased their self-confidence when moving around,” Tero Kiuru, senior scientist at VTT, explains.
According to the test results, 92 per cent of the trial group felt the device helped them perceive their surroundings, 80 per cent thought it increased trust in their ability to move around independently and 32 per cent would begin to use the device immediately in its current form.
There were, however, some dissatisfaction with distance control and the vibration-based feedback. The research continues and the device is still being further developed.
VTT has developed Guidesense in partnership with the Kuopio University Hospital and the Finnish Federation of the Visually Impaired (FFVI).