New mobility device is a guide dog alternative

The work-in-progress mobility device will help the visually impaired to navigate the world. Anthony Camu, an industrial design…
mobility aid for the visually impaired

The work-in-progress mobility device will help the visually impaired to navigate the world.

Anthony Camu, an industrial design student at Loughborough University in England, just invented an alternative to the guide dog. It’s a handheld device by the name of Theia that works like “a robotic guide dog.”

Autonomous vehicles and virtual reality gaming consoles inspired Camu when he was conceiving the device. Right now, Theia is at the prototype stage of its development.

Theia is currently experiencing some vibration and motor issues, but hopefully, more work on the device will work out the kinks. Ideally, extra development will “even enable Theia to tackle more complex settings like elevators, stairs and pedestrian crossings.”

Theia uses a control movement gyroscope which directs the hand of the user based on how the device is moving. Also, a lidar and camera system would work to create a 3D concept of the environment like the one a self-driving car makes.

Once a user uses voice commands to tell Theia where they want to go, the “onboard processors will determine the best path to take while even factoring in real-time data on pedestrian and car traffic, as well as the weather.”

For many visually impaired people, guide dogs are great mobility aids. However, they can be costly or difficult to live with if people have smaller spaces or allergies. Sometimes, certain circumstances also limit the availability of guide dogs, like right now with the COVID-19 pandemic.

So, the Theia device could be an effective alternative for people who are unable to have guide dogs. Camu says that Theia could help visually impaired people to be independent:

Such limitations [to feeling independent] are usually formed due to the fear and anxiety associated with having a partial understanding of the surroundings. Theia has the capacity to expand a blind person’s comfort zones and possibilities, broaden their horizons and allow them to think less about walking and more about what’s waiting for them at the end of the route.

Anthony Camu

Article source: New Atlas

Featured image source: Loughborough University

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