Growing up in an era in which applied sciences have answers to all problems, we believe we are fortunate enough to have access to such high levels of technology capable of helping the needy and disabled. It is quite saddening to see the visually impaired thing to find their way across alleys, streets or roads. So why not address this problem? After several hours of discussions and surveying, we finally decided to build this magic cane to change the lives of the blind.
What it does
The Proxy Pole uses an ultrasonic proximity sensing technology to detect the environment around the user. This allows the user to be alerted of possible obstacles in their path, by audio output and vibration. This device comes with a panic button for dire situations. Whenever the user finds himself/ herself in a completely new and unknown surrounding, the panic button could be used to sound an emergency alarm. This would allow the bystanders to possibly assist and guide the user.
How we built it
Programmed using an Arduino, the Proxy Pole consists of two parts: a cane and a glove. The first step was to assemble and design the circuit on a breadboard by attaching the buzzer, ultrasonic sensor, Arduino, motor etc. Next, we moved on to coding the Arduino for facilitating the proximity sensor to detect and measure distances of objects placed in front of it. After several trial and errors, the hardware was ready to be moved into the Pole. We experienced with various switches, including the push button and the 3-way button switch, to control the main power and panic mode. We concluded by testing the device in several different surroundings.
Challenges we ran into
A few challenges we ran into included: power issues experienced due to improper wire connections, space minimisation issues, troubleshooting the proximity sensor, discovering the proper orientation required for the motor to work and vibrate correctly.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
Rather than catering to the needs of the abled, our project actually focusses on easing the lives of the special abled. Additionally, we are happy that we were able to model and construct this product under 36 hours of hacking.
What we learned
Amateurs to Arduino programming, we also learnt complex circuit assembly. Building this project under a tight time constraint, also taught us time and resource management.
What's next for Proxy Pole
After a few hours of mind storming, we came up with a few improvements and extra features that we plan to include in the next model of the Proxy Pole. Firstly, we plan to attach a Wifi Module to the Arduino that will enable it to send wireless messages to an emergency contact of the user on the press of the Panic button. Secondly, we aim to incorporate the new model with a GPS Locator to send the location of the user whenever the situation requires it. Any other suggestions are welcome!