White cane is very helpful for blinds people for walking; it is a symbol of independence and safety for them. While walking, white cane indicates the all obstacles and holes on the road. But the problem comes when the obstacles are above the knee level to head. Hoardings on road, air conditioner and boards coming out of wall and branches of trees are such obstacles which create problems while walking for the people and they get injured, but now white cane will solve this problems of blind people. IIT Delhi team had prepared a such gadget which will give the indication or signal of such obstacles before hand, presently the trial of this gadget is going on. Within a short period, a company from Chennai is going to launch white cane in the market.
a Report based on discussion with prof. M. Balakrishnan by Divya Sahu from delhi
What is Smart Cane, how it works?
Professor M. Balakrishanan from IIT, Delhi says that a special gadget is being installed on the upper part of the white cane, which ultrasonic razor including one transmitter and a receiver. Ultrasonic rays continuously vibrate through transmitter. If any obstacles come on the way, ultrasonic rays fall on it and alarms to receiver, through which a person can come to know about the height and distance of the obstacles. And all these are calculated by White Cane based on the walking speed of the blind people.
Smart or White Cane can be able to identify the obstacles at which distance.
There are two turns on Smart Cane one for walking inside the house and other for outside. Within the house it can identify the obstacles within the range of two meters whereas it is three meters for outside the house.
The way your cell phone vibrates at the time of incoming call, in similar way the White Cane will start vibrating while identifying the obstacles on the way, and it can specify the distance also. Like mobiles, White cane also work on the batters and once full charged will continue working for next 10 hours. Generally blind people walks one and a half hour to two hours daily, so once the battery is full charged it can work continuously for one week.
In order to the understand the use of smart cane audio and brail manuals are also prepared in Hindi, English, Punjabi and Gujarati languages, blind people can learn the use of White cane by reading or hearing this manual.
Cost of Smart Cane?
There are two types of cost of this cane, in market it is available in about 2.5 to 3 thousand, and person had to invest rupees 500 for its training purpose.
Since blind people are generally of low budget people, in that case how this cane would be available to them.
Ministry of Social Justice, Central Government had prepared a scheme to provide subsidy upto rupees six thousand to handicapped to purchase equipments. Regarding this, a discussion was held with Disability Commissioner, Delhi, the Delhi Team, IIT, the team visited our lab and keenly saw the scheme in detail. Showing the positive attitude they had demanded for the plan.
He informed that Indian technical equipment is very less available in market, if any equipment is prepared here, but with foreign technique. That’s why we are getting very positive response from the market. Whatever equipment available in market is very expensive nearly around 40 to 50 thousand. But we are only talking about 2-3 thousand rupees. We have received the positive messages through Britain, Canada and Australia. There is possibility that after the launching of white cane in market, the company will start export also.
How much time is needed to prepare this Gadget?
The gadget is prepared in two stages. First of all student project was prepared. Students prepared the gadget in four versions in a span of four years. The team used the IIT resources at first later on the team started searching for the Research Fund and company which could prepare the smart cane and present in market. The company from Chennai came forward.
Whether the cane is water proof?
This cane is water proof, but this will not work in heavy rains. Since the ultrasonic waves can return back after getting hit by the water drops. In such condition the cane can give wrong information. The smart cane device is attached on the top of white cane and thus, even if the cane breaks the device could be attached to another cane.
In which areas this smart cane is successful?
The testing of this smart cane is underway in Delhi, Dehradoon and Mumbai. Trials will be taken up in Bangalore and Chennai also. Around 125 users were there for the trial. Even in Simla the trial took place. The gadget is successful only in plain surfaces, while in the hilly areas it failed.
Future of this smart cane in India
IIT Delhi team had found a better future of this cane in country. Prof. Balakrishnan informed that trial stage is quite better. If you think about the blind person, you feel how happy the blind person is. But I consider the real happiness when the blinds will start using this smart cane smartly.