Over 300 million individuals suffer from extreme visual impairment and over 40 million are blind. According to a study from the University of Chicago, 94% of older Americans suffer from at least one significant sensory deficit. YouGov conducted a survey in 2018 to find that out of all five senses, 70% of everyday people would miss their eyesight.
Today, I’m introducing Glimpse: a new assistance device for the visually impaired. When people aren’t able to see, they rely on their movements to keep track of distances in their surroundings. Glimpse is able to increase your spatial awareness, which is the most challenging obstacle as people lose their sense of sight.
Glimpse uses an Arduino microcontroller to connect various parts together. The most important part is the ultrasonic sensor that is attached to the front of the glasses. By timing how long sound takes to reflect back to the sensor, we’re able to calculate and return the distance. Based on that data, a buzzer sounds at a specific frequency to reflect how far away the object is placed. As the object moves closer to the individual, the frequency increases. Since visual impairment is most common in the elderly, it’s important that we adjust the frequency to hearable values based on the individual.
Since many of the disabled elderly have access to caregivers, I created a resource for them to use. Using the Telegram API, Caregivers can send and view live locations, view the device’s status, check in or check out, and most importantly, contact nearby social workers. Recently, there has been an increase in police brutality surrounding calls related to mental health. As a result, it was incredibly important for me to distinguish it from a classic 911.
The data regarding available caregivers, location history, and device status are all stored into Google Cloud’s Firebase RealTime Database. The rise and support of movements like Stop Asian Hate and Black Lives Matter have all been made possible by storing records of valuable information to be used in prosecution trials. Especially with vulnerable populations like the visually impaired, tracking this information is vital to keeping our communities safe. The device uses a token verification process to access Firebase, where the sensory data is then stored to improve object recognition. Changes in the device’s sensors are sent live into Firebase for data processing.
Glimpse has the potential to change the world and offer a smoother transition into a life without sight. With this device, maybe, just maybe, the blind can finally get a glimpse of what sight used to be.