Thanks to advancement in technology, many products used on daily basis have been re-invented to offer more reliable and efficient functionality. From smart phones, smart TVs, smart planters, new car models, among others, technology still serves the great purpose of enriching our lives with new options and higher productivity. While many of the newest technological advancements are steadfast to the field of entertainment, there are others that contribute to our well-being, especially to the persons with disabilities.
According to the World Health Organization, around twenty percent of visually impaired persons use the white cane. The white cane has always been helpful to these group of PWDs, however, it can only help people avoid obstacles at ground level leaving their chest and upper body unprotected from objects or barriers along their path.
This challenge explains why visually impaired persons have embraced the smartphone technology to supplement the cane while helping to navigate along and around the streets, sidewalks, and new environments. Unfortunately, it is cumbersome to carry the cane in one hand and a smart phone on the other, so, there was need to fill the market niche to create easy navigation and accessibility for the visually impaired.
It is the shoe wearer who knows where it pinches right? Well, Kursat Ceylan who is visually impaired knew where the shoe pinched and revolutionized the white cane.
“In these days, we are talking about flying cars, but these people have been using just a plain stick. As a blind person, when I am at the Metro station, I don’t know which is my exit… I don’t know which bus is approaching… which stores are around me. That kind of information can be provided with the WeWalk,” he told CNN.
Together with his team of engineers from Young Guru Academy, this young inventor from Turkey recently invented the WeWalk smart cane which uses google maps to help blind people navigate more efficiently.
Being visually impaired himself, he knows and has firsthand experience on some of the challenges faced by persons with his kind of disability. Instead of getting discouraged, Kursat was motivated and inspired by these challenges to find a solution to the major white cane problems. This marked the invention of a smart cane dubbed ‘WeWalk.’ He made this invention to help people like him move around easily and safely without seeking help every time.
WeWalk looks like the traditional cane but complete with a handle. It is mobile integrated and connects to apps via Bluetooth, and it enables control with a touchpad or voice command, with no need to carry the phone in your hand.
WeWalk smart cane allows visually impaired persons detect objects or obstacles above the chest-level. It is equipped with a high-tech ultrasonic sensor which vibrates when physical objects are nearby.
How to Use the WeWalk
- Pair the smart-cane with your phone – use the product’s mobile application found on app stores.
- If pair using Bluetooth, use the app with the touchpad on the WeWalk cane – it allows you to change settings without having to hold or use your phone.
- Continue with your standard map navigation using just the cane.
- The “Google Maps” and “Voice Assistant” helps you navigate
Features of the WeWalk
It is installed with apps such as Uber and Lyft, making urban mobility a lot easier while google provides accurate navigation system.
It has dual sensors which vibrate to alert the user of upcoming danger at ground and chest level (Dual sensors can be charged using USB after five hours of being used).
The smart cane comes during a period when the WHO reported a rising prevalence of blindness around the world and saw need for the growth of assistive technology to help the visually impaired. The WeWalk smart cane targets 500 million visually impaired persons around the world. A majority of whom are above 50 years of age according to the WHO (World Health Organization). CEO and co-founder of Young Guru Academy (YGA), a Turkish non-profit behind WeWalk, Engineer Kursat Ceylan, alongside his team have indeed revolutionized the white cane into a whole new level.
By developing one of the most meaningful technological devices, visually impaired persons no longer have to worry about barriers that may harm their chest area going upwards and smooth navigation in new environments.
By: Linzer Kibebe