Blind Runner, Thomas Panek Gets Assistance from Breakthrough App on Solo 5k Run

Vision may not measured by those things we see alone, but rather by those things we can imagine,…
Blind Runner, Thomas Panek Gets Assistance from Breakthrough App on Solo 5k Run

Vision may not measured by those things we see alone, but rather by those things we can imagine, we work hard to achieve, and the things we ensure becomes a reality. Thomas Panek (a runner) became blind due to a genetic disorder in his twenties. However, he’s been determined to continue the race.

In an interview with the Reuters, he said:

The safest thing for a blind man is to sit still. I ain’t sitting still.

Thomas Panek

Three decades have passed and Thomas Panek is breaking new grounds. Utilizing a cutting-edge app, which he also helped develop, he recently became the first blind runner to run and complete a solo 5K race without any assistance.

In an interview with Time, he said:

I’ve been a runner for my whole life, except I stopped for a time too afraid to run without assistance. I picked up running again using human guides. People volunteered to connect with me with a tether to show the way to go but I would have to leave my guide dog at home—and yet, dogs love to run and I love to run so I really wanted to see with my training from Guiding Eyes for the Blind if it was possible to train a guide dog to run.

Thomas Panek

Panek has been using his guide dog for a while and loved his companionship, but he wondered if there’s a way to race without help from any human or dog. He then contacted Google for assistance.

Also read: A Moving Company Has Decided to Assist Victims of Domestic Violence For Free

The answer came in the form of a camera-assisted artificial intelligence cell phone app. Using painted track markers, the app calculates a runner’s location and orientation and responds with audio cues to guide them in the right direction.

This is the first time Panek will use the Project Guideline app; this occurred at a co-sponsored Google event and the New York Road Runners Club.

To be able to be here, it’s real emotional. It’s a real feeling of not only freedom and independence, but also, you know, you get that sense that you’re just like anybody else.

Thomas Panek

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