Talk-to-walk guide for the blind

Talk-to-walk guide for the blind
Steve Bush Researchers in Germany have developed a prototype electronic aid for the blind. “It works a bit like a guide dog. You tell it to look for a phone box and it guides you to one when it sees it,” said Sven Utcke, co-developer at Freiburg’s institute of computer science. Called Movis, it views the world from two spectacle-mounted cameras. The headset is small and light, but the processor if far from portable. “It has eight PowerPCs and is the size of a freezer,” said Utcke. “Two 300MHz Pentiums could probably cope and in a year processors should be available to make it portable,” continued Utcke. Phone and letter boxes are detected by colour and shape using stereo imaging. Finding street signs, zebra crossings and other flat objects requires monoscopic imaging. The intention of the project is to make Movis able to read, navigate by street signs and be able to respond to instructions like “Find a toilet.” The system is the third-year result of a nine year government-sponsored project, although work may be terminated as funding cuts are likely.


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