Innovation That Matters

The launch of the Smart White Cane at Masaka Resource Center for the Blind, where 40 locally developed ‘smart canes’ devices were handed over to persons with visual impairment | Photo source The United Nations Development Programme

Multi-sensory smart cane helps visually impaired users navigate public spaces

Health & Wellbeing

The lightweight cane vibrates and beeps when it detects obstacles

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Spotted: The white cane used to help people with visual impairments navigate in public spaces is readily recognised. Now, a new, smart version, designed and built by Rwandan electronic project developer and innovator Amani Niyoyita, comes with functionality that helps users, and those around them, travel even more smoothly.

Red and blue lights on the cane make it easier for passersby and motorists to see the person in the dark. And a combination of vibrations and noises alert the user to upcoming obstacles up to 1.2 metres away. The cane also provides an alert indicating the time of day.

Lightweight and foldable, the cane is made from aluminium, making it easy to transport and use for people with a range of physical abilities. Rechargeable via commonly found phone chargers, the cane’s electronics run for up to five days once fully powered. Other features of the cane include an insulator to protect users from accidentally bumping electrical wires and a GPS option for tracking a users’ location.

As part of the United Nations Development Program’s (UNDP) Rwanda Accelerator Lab, Niyoyita and his team donated 40 of the smart canes to Rwandan citizens with visual impairments. Continued development of the device’s capability and accessibility focuses on adding weather sensors and reducing the cost for the end user.

As well as improving the usability of travel, other recent accessibility innovations spotted by Springwise include personalised, next-gen hearing aids, and a mobile app that reads out prescriptions.

Written by: Keely Khoury



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