The white canes used by visually impaired people to get around have been transformed into a “smart cane” that not only detects obstacles, but also provides information about shops and restaurants they pass.
The device is the brainchild of Kursat Ceylan, a Turkish inventor who was born blind and suffered a fatal accident three years ago as he struggled to find his way carrying his luggage and checking GPS directions via his smartphone.
Ceylan helped create WeWALK, a technology company that has developed an electronic handle for the top of a cane. The device uses ultrasound to detect obstacles, can be paired with a smartphone, and offers voice feedback to help keep the wearer safe and informed.
“We are offering an opportunity for visually impaired people to be part of social life,” Ceylan, 35, told Reuters at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, where the company is up for the title of “best impact startup”. “.
He said the folding cane, priced at $599, was already being used by thousands of visually impaired people in 59 countries and WeWALK was working with companies like Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT ) to add more features.
“As you know, we are thinking about fully autonomous vehicles. (…) WeWALK is a device to provide fully autonomous travel for visually impaired people,” Ceylan said.