Now The Blind Can Ditch the Cane and Use an AI Backpack to Navigate

This new AI backpack is a product of a team of University of Georgia researchers. Researchers have come up with wearable artificial intelligence, in the form of backpacks, that can help guide individuals with visual impairments. The backpack can detect street curbs, crosswalks, traffic signs, and many other road obstacles a blind person may need to be aware of. There’s also a camera-equipped vest that comes with the backpack. 

Users who are visually impaired have audio cue notifications that by a pair of Bluetooth-capable earphones. It also comes with a funny pack that houses the battery which powers the backpack. This battery can keep the bag running for up to nine hours or so. 

Visual Assistance Redefined 

An Intel processing device also powers this AI backpack. The company says that this device is much superior to what you’ll find in the other visual-assistance solutions out there, such as camera-based walking stick applications. Intel claims that such systems don’t have the depth of perception needed to facilitate independent navigation. 

Jagadish Mahendran, a University of Georgia AI developer, is the one who led the project. Mahendran was inspired to come up with this backpack after he met a visually impaired friend. He said that he was struck by the irony of how he was giving sight to robots, yet many people out there in the world can’t see and are in dire need of help. 

This AI backpack was trained to distinguish and identify different terrain elements, like concrete sidewalks and grass. The backpack was later on also trained how to identify obstacles such as road signs, low-hanging branches, bicycles, and cars. However, one of the challenges was how they were going to make it light enough to be both feasible and realistic. 

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