Guide Dogs Victoria Embraces Digital Innovation
14 June 2018 at 5:17 pm
People with low vision or blindness could soon be able to cross the road at complex intersections without the assistance of a Guide Dog, thanks to a partnership between Guide Dogs Victoria and a global software consultancy.
GDV announced on Thursday that it had been working with software firm ThoughtWorks, in a bid to embrace digital innovation to enhance lives.
Together, they have developed the SensaCane, a digital solution enabling those with low vision or blindness to cross complex intersections without a Guide Dog.
The prototype uses optical infrared sensors in the tip to detect white lines on the road and trigger vibration feedback to the user.
Alastair Stott, GDV’s general manager of client and guide dog services, said this digital solution would improve the lives of their clients.
“There are around 200,000 Victorian’s with low vision or blindness, and our aim is to find new ways to improve their lives, whatever their age or the cause of their vision loss,” Stott said.
“While Guide Dog services represent 30 per cent of what we do, digital innovation has a big role to play in constantly improving our offering to clients.
“Enabling people with low vision or blindness to do something as simple as identifying a white line on a road crossing has massive implications for their quality of life – so we’ve partnered with ThoughtWorks to develop a digital solution that will help them do just that.”
ThoughtWorks’ project team completed field observations and interviews with GDV clients to understand what difficulties were associated with crossing complex intersections.
This “smart cane” prototype is intended to provide the guidance needed to make intersection crossing safer and easier for low vision and blind people.
Dave Colls, data practice leader at ThoughtWorks Australia said: “Working with GDV’s clients from the very beginning has meant we could leverage our Internet of Things (IoT) capabilities and experience to create a new and simple solution that will make a real difference in their lives.
“The SensaCane has been road tested by clients and we’re now fine-tuning to ensure it’s production-ready.”
GDV is currently seeking funding support for commercial production of the SensaCane prototype, with the aim of having the device available for its low vision and blind clients in the near future.