In the world, there are 285 million who are legally or fully blind, who lack adequate vision to understand their surroundings. This means that they do not know where objects are around them, or what those objects are. Seeing for the Blind aims to be an affordable solution to this problem. The device uses a sonar placed on a pair of glasses and shoes, that works to determine the distance between the user and any obstacle in front of them. This distance measurement is then processed by and Arduino microcontroller, which interprets the data and returns a corresponding output either in the form of sound or vibration. As the user walks toward an obstacle, the pitch and frequency of the sound and the intensity of the vibration is increased to alert the user that they are nearing an object. This system allows the user to understand where objects are in relation to them. However, the user does not know what specifically these objects are. The next system uses a camera that takes a photo of the user’s surroundings on their request. The image is sent to a raspberry pi, which analyzes the photo in a deep learning neural network. The object or text is identified, and the name or text is read back to the user through an earphone. This allows the user to fully understand their surroundings, by knowing where and what objects are around them, so that they can gain an artificial sense of sight.

What inspired you (or your team)?

I was boarding my flight to return home from a month of visiting family in India. As we stood in the jetway, someone bumped into me. As I turned around to see what had happened, I saw that a blind woman had bumped into me. As we moved through the rows of the aircraft, she kept tapping her cane against the seats, hitting luggage and people as she used her hands to count every row one by one to find her seat. This was not an unfamiliar sight. Ninety percent of the blind live in third world countries like India. In the case of the woman in the plane, she was lucky enough to afford treatment. As I have seen, many of the blind in India are unable to afford any treatment at all. They are left to navigate bustling cities without any aid to help them with their disability, which could have been prevented. While I watched the woman climb into her seat, I realized there had to be a better way. There must be a high tech solution to allow the blind to navigate, and it must be affordable and accessible to everyone. With these criteria in mind, I set out to invent Seeing For The Blind, so that it could benefit 285 million across the world, and help them see again.