Most of us may not think too much about wet floor signs in our supermarket, or warning triangles placed around roadworks in the street, but for the blind these unexpected obstacles can become a major hindrance in their everyday lives.
That may be set to change however, as a newly founded German tech company are developing a Bluetooth powered warning system which will enable the blind to navigate these obstacles with ease.
The idea is fairly simple: small stickers housing Bluetooth 4.0 technology are placed on warning signs, and through the company’s ‘Project Eli’ app (which runs in the background on your phone), send either a verbal or haptic warning to the user. The app can then be opened and more information on the obstacle ahead given if necessary.
Talking with Wired.com project cofounder Markus Beringer stated that they “wanted to work out how to bring these signs into the 21st century” and found that this simple solution holds great promise. The project is in its early stages though, so we can’t expect to see this widely adopted for some time, and that’s if it successfully gets off the ground.
Like all new technologies, this beacon system will require widespread adoption for it to be successful, and in today’s world that can be hard to achieve. With systems such as guide dogs and canes (including sonar powered smart canes) already well-established, convincing companies to adopt these Bluetooth beacons may be difficult.
Still, Beringer has high hopes for the project and has spoken to representatives for the blind “who thinks it’s a great idea, and can really improve lives [as] not everyone can afford a guide dog”. It certainly sounds like a promising idea and would make an immense difference to the 365,000 blind people living in the UK alone. Project Eli will be at Web Summit in Dublin this year and you can catch up with the project then.