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GUIDi: A Vibrating Navigation Device Set to Transform Mobility for the Visually Impaired

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BNN Correspondents
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GUIDi: A Vibrating Navigation Device Set to Transform Mobility for the Visually Impaired

Blind individuals across the globe might soon be able to swap their traditional white canes with a new vibrating navigation device, 'GUIDi', an innovative brainchild of AI Guided. A major breakthrough in assistive technology, GUIDi's primary function is to detect obstacles and safeguard visually impaired persons (VIPs) during their journeys.

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Breaking Down the GUIDi

The device is equipped with an eight-megapixel camera that is worn on the belt, capturing images of the user's surroundings. These images are then processed by an AI-based software that runs on a processor the user carries on their back. The software identifies possible obstacles such as trees, trash cans, and signs. A set of LiDAR sensors measures exact distances to these obstacles, activating vibrators on either side of the camera to guide users away from them. GUIDi works flawlessly, even at night, using LiDAR for complete navigation and obstacle detection within a range of five meters. It even detects overhead hazards like hanging branches, providing guidance around them through vibrations.

More than Just Obstacle Detection

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Beyond detecting and avoiding obstacles, GUIDi doubles as a navigation device. Users can select a destination through an app on a Bluetooth-connected smartphone, and GUIDi continuously seeks a clear path to guide them. Powering this device is a lithium battery that lasts for eight to ten hours of use. Weighing just 560 grams, GUIDi is far from cumbersome to carry. The device also features Braille-marked controls, making it accessible for its users.

Impact on the Visually Impaired Community

Available for pre-order on the Indiegogo platform at $924 and scheduled for delivery in June 2024, GUIDi could be a life-changing aid for the approximately 250 million people globally with severe visual impairments, including blindness. The device's high accuracy rate of 95% for obstacle detection and prioritization, coupled with real-time alerts with a response time of just 5 seconds, makes it a potentially transformative tool in the hands of the visually impaired. It's a leap forward in the integration of AI technology and accessibility tools to foster inclusivity and independence.

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