Saturday, June 19, 2021

An Amazing AI-Equipped Backpack for the Blind

Many cultures have the saying that when one sense is taken, the others are sharpened. There is a new backpack for the blind that will address the independence factor for blind people. People who are blind often have keener senses compared to people who can see. This intuitive gift is often supplemented with service dogs or caregivers to navigate.

AI backpack for the blind

The story behind the creation of the AI-equipped backpack for the blind is as interesting and heartening as the device itself. Jagadish Mahendran, a University of Georgia Computer Vision/Artificial Intelligence (AI) engineer. Mahendran decided to develop a proper AI-powered device that will help the blind ‘see’ their way.

Mahendran and his team designed an artificial intelligence-powered, voice-activated backpack that can help the visually impaired navigate and perceive the world around them. The backpack helps detect common challenges all while running on a low-power, interactive device. The backpack is powered by a Luxonis OAK-D spatial AI camera, Intel Movidius VPU, and the Intel OpenVINO toolkit.

Watch this video about the artificial intelligence-powered, voice-activated backpack:

How the backpack works

The AI-system constantly converts camera and sensor information to an audio voice output via Bluetooth earpieces. It is also a two-way mode. The user can ask questions about their surroundings and the required information is passed on to the user instantly.

This guiding device is simple, the sensors, together with the cameras, detect visual information about traffic signs, traffic conditions, changing elevations, and crosswalks, alongside location information, and turn it into useful verbal descriptions.

The backpack for the blind converts all the information received by the cameras and sensors into an audio navigation mode.
The backpack converts all the information received by the cameras and sensors into an audio navigation mode. (Image: Jagadish Mahendran )

When it comes to navigating in the real world, a simple miscalculation by people with no sight is a life or death concern. With no latency in the feedback from the cameras and sensors to the AI to the voice feed, traveling is safer.

With AI technology moving at a fast pace, the visually challenged should not be left behind. The blind can now leave their home and safely navigate to their destination independently.

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Jack Roberts
Jack Roberts is an author who specializes in World Events and Global geopolitics.
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