Toyota is working on a wearable that could help blind people better navigate the world. Called Project Blaid, for now, the shoulder-worn device is will enter beta testing soon, and could give the visually impaired more independence.
Blaid is worn around the shoulders. Built-in cameras scan the wearer's surroundings, while on-board speakers and vibration motors help guide the user. Onboard mics and buttons allow the user to ask for directions as well.
Designed for use in indoor spaces, Blaid will help identify signs and common features such as doors, stairs, escalators. Toyota also plans to add mapping, object identification and facial recognition to Blaid eventually.
Toyota is starting a campaign for its employees to submit videos of common indoor landmarks, and will use those clips to teach Blaid and improve its recognition of these cues.
I'm a big fan of coming up with technology that can help people. We're seeing more and more augmented reality devices, such as Microsoft's Hololens, promise incredible ways to make life easier. But such products often come at a high price — the HoloLens will cost $3,000 at preorder. If Blaid comes to market, I hope it doesn't cost an arm and a leg.