Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists develop ’electronic eye’ for the blind

19.11.2004


An effective navigation system would improve the mobility of millions of blind people all over the world. A new "eye" developed by scientists in Japan will allow blind people to cross busy roads in total safety for the first time.



The "electronic eye", which would be mounted on a pair of glasses, will be capable of detecting the existence and location of a pedestrian crossing, and at the same time measure the width of the road to the nearest step and detect the colour of the traffic lights. This research appears today (19th November) in the journal Measurement Science and Technology published by the UK’s Institute of Physics.

Tadayoshi Shioyama and Mohammad Uddin, from the Kyoto Institute of Technology in Japan, have developed a system that is able to detect the existence of a pedestrian crossing in front of a blind person using a single camera. When combined with two other techniques the authors have produced, for measuring the width of the road and the colour of traffic lights, a single camera can now give the blind all the information they need to cross a road in safety.


Although some crossings make a sound when it is safe to cross, many do not. This issue has been tackled in the past. Adaptations have, for example, been made to the most common travel aid used by blind people, the white cane. There are some canes with added functions which use lasers or ultrasound to detect more distant obstacles. One such is the Talking Cane from Sten Lšfving Optical Sensors in Sweden. But this technology can’t give information about the location of a crossing, width of the road or the colour of the traffic lights.

Professor Shioyama said: "The camera would be mounted at eye level, and be connected to a tiny computer. It will relay information using a voice speech system and give vocal commands and information through a small speaker placed near the ear".

The device developed at Kyoto is the final product of a research programme that aimed to give blind people all the navigation information they needed to cross a road from a single small camera. Last year, the authors announced that they had designed a computer-aided camera that could measure the length of a crossing to within one step length - and simultaneously detect the colour of the traffic lights. Crucially, it couldn’t tell you where the crossing actually was until now.

Using images from a single camera, the device has a simple structure: unlike sophisticated stereo camera systems it does not need camera calibration. (The information is obtained using a ’camera coordinate system,’ so separate images do not need to be taken to calibrate the device). The length of a pedestrian crossing is measured by projective geometry: the camera makes an image of the white lines painted on the road, and then the actual distances are determined using the properties of geometric shapes as seen in the image. Experiments carried out by Shioyama and his colleagues showed that the crossing length could be measured to within an error of only 5 per cent of the full length - which is less than one step.

Shioyama and Uddin have now made a breakthrough in detecting the location of crossings in the first place and added this to their original camera. To do this they used a calculation called the "projective invariant" which takes the distance between the white lines (called the band width) and a set of linear points on the edges of the white lines, to give an accurate way of detecting what is or isn’t a crossing in a given image.

They used this technique to analyse 196 images and it proved successful in detecting whether there was a crossing present in 194 of them. In the two images where the system made a mistake, it said there wasn’t a crossing where there really was one.

Katherine Phipps, Accessible Environments spokesperson at the Royal National Institute of the Blind said: "Mobility is a serious issue for blind and partially sighted people and new tools like this that may help people with sight problems get around safely are always welcome".

David Reid | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.iop.org

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht One gene closer to regenerative therapy for muscular disorders
01.06.2017 | Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

nachricht The gut microbiota plays a key role in treatment with classic diabetes medication
01.06.2017 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>