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City College of New York-led research could lead to wearable sensors for the blind
Date:9/28/2011

visual understanding by machines, such as detecting and identifying doors, exit signs, colors or stairs in a room. A system like this could audibly tell the wearer that an object on the floor was a cat or a footstool, for example.

Dr. Kok-Meng Lee, professor of mechanical engineering and director of the Advanced Intelligent Mechatronics Research Laboratory at Georgia Tech, who has expertise in mechanotronics -- the combination of mechanics and the electronics of information systems -- works on machine vision and novel sensor designs. He will help develop the theory and methods for detecting objects thermally and magnetically and find out how this affects walking. This will help break down the essentials of orienting oneself in a new environment and navigating through it.

Dr. Boris Prilutsky, professor in the School of Applied Physiology at Georgia Tech, studies sensory feedback in motor control or how one learns and organizes movements -- like walking or reaching out -- using sensory information. He will look at how quickly people with normal and impaired vision can learn to use devices for alternative perception and help develop models for some of the findings.

The researchers hope their findings on perception, and the prototypes they develop, will spawn a raft of wearable electronic devices to help the blind to "see" their environment at a distance through touch, hearing and other senses. The technology would also benefit sighted individuals who must navigate in poor visibility, such as firefighters and pilots.

Such devices could outperform existing assistive technologies by providing more information and being lower in cost. There are even advantages over one of the best forms of assistance for the blind, the guide dog. "A service dog can't convey what is around you, it can just guide," notes Professor Ro. "This [device] can actually tell you how far things are or what things are in much more detail."


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Contact: Jessa Netting
jnetting@ccny.cuny.edu
212-650-7615
City College of New York
Source:Eurekalert

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