Sunday, August 4, 2019

G4B, the smart and intelligent goggles for the blind

In a world where technology is transforming lives everyday, there is another good news for the blind. A young engineering student from Arunachal Pradesh in India has invented goggles that can protect visually impaired people from bumping into taller obstacles on the way. Fitted with sensors, the G4B or Goggles for the Blind is designed to detect obstacles that are higher from the ground within the distance of 2 meters and alert the user through vibrations if he or she gets closer. It is said that the G4B has three sensors: one each on the left, right and at the Center, designed to vibrate as per the position and direction of the obstacle. More interestingly, it is said that the intensity of vibration is determined by the distance between the person and the obstacles ahead of him or her. The closer one gets to the obstacles, the stronger the vibration becomes. It uses echo-location, similar to the navigation mechanism used by bats. If this technology comes to the market, I think it can make life much easier for the visually impaired population as a whole.

Recently, I contacted the inventor of this technology through his Facebook page and talked about the product. Anang Tadar who is currently studying engineering in Raipur, India told me that G4B is still being tested and that it is expected to be available in the market soon. He told me that he would be going to a school for the blind within this month to test his product and customize it further to meet the mobility needs of persons with visual impairment. More importantly, he assured me that he would make the product as affordable as possible so that every blind person can benefit from his innovative technology that has won him the Dinanath Pandey Smart Idea Innovation Award in March 2017. It is going to be one of his greatest gifts for the blind if everything goes well as planned. The good news is that he now has the commitment of the Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh and UNICEF to support his project.

However, it is cautioned that G4B cannot be a substitute for the white cane used by visually impaired people to navigate around. While the cane helps the visually impaired person find obstacles on the ground, the G4B detects what is higher from the waist-level. Hence, these two products are expected to supplement each other in ensuring greater safety and independence for the blind users especially while passing through narrow paths or gates.

Since Bhutan is one of India’s closest neighbors, it is expected that we would be able to get the product easily once it enters the market in India. Although the medical science has not yet been able to find ways to transplant or replace eyeballs and optic nerves to restore sight for the blind, such assistive technologies that are evolving with time are a great consolation for those of us who can’t physically see the world. It is really comforting to know that there are some people amongst us who are blest with exceptional brain and mind to make this world more beautiful and liveable for all of us.

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