Technology has the power to transform the lives of people with disabilities, providing them with greater independence and opportunities. Haptic feedback glasses for the visually impaired are a groundbreaking development designed to uplift the lives of these individuals. Cornel Amariei, the CEO and founder of .lumen, is committed to creating glasses that mimic the primary functions of a guide dog.
One of the major issues facing blind people is the limited availability of guide dogs, with only 28,000 dogs serving the 40 million blind people worldwide. The cost of training a guide dog, which amounts to around $70,000, and the extensive effort required from blind individuals make guide dogs a non-scalable solution. To address this issue, .lumen has developed glasses that utilize self-driving technology and a patented haptic feedback interface.
The .lumen glasses function similarly to a guide dog, pulling the user's head instead of their hand. The haptic feedback creates the sensation of something holding and pulling the head in the direction the user needs to go, avoiding obstacles and ensuring safety. The company has been testing with over 250 blind individuals internationally and has shown the glasses to be incredibly effective, even surpassing the capabilities of guide dogs.
In terms of functionality, the .lumen glasses can be directed to guide the user to specific locations or provide general guidance. The glasses compute obstacle positions a hundred times per second, ensuring seamless navigation. The haptic feedback on the forehead provides intuitive guidance, allowing blind individuals to navigate their surroundings without the need for a physical guide.
The decision to incorporate haptic feedback into the glasses was driven by the desire to provide non-intrusive yet informative feedback. Blind individuals heavily rely on their hearing, so audio feedback was deemed unsuitable. By utilizing haptics, .lumen ensures that the feedback is intuitive and easily understandable. The head was chosen as the feedback location due to its natural inclination to turn and gather information about the surroundings.
Similar to guide dogs, which do not bark when there is an obstacle but rather guide the individual around it, the glasses use haptics to gently steer the user. The glasses are engineered to handle complex outdoor challenges, such as distinguishing between the sidewalk and the road, through extensive AI training and data analysis.
The decision to develop glasses with haptic feedback stemmed from the desire to address the limitations of guide dogs and provide a scalable solution for the millions of blind individuals who cannot have access to a guide dog. Amariei's passion for improving the lives of blind individuals is evident in his dedication to creating a product that not only replicates the capabilities of guide dogs but also exceeds them in some cases.
Amariei shares his personal experience growing up in a family of people with disabilities and how it inspired them to create technology specifically for this community. He mentions that he comes from Eastern Europe, specifically Transylvania, where he witnessed firsthand the challenges faced by people with disabilities.
However, he also recognized the potential of technology to address these challenges. Coming from a background in automotive, specifically autonomous driving, he understood the capabilities of technology and saw an opportunity to create something better.
It is important to note that, in terms of price, it is not intended for the blind individuals themselves to pay for it. Instead, they are exploring reimbursement and subsidy programs, such as those found in Europe, to ensure that the technology is accessible and affordable for those who need it.
In conclusion, the development of glasses for the blind with haptic feedback represents a significant advancement in assistive technology. These glasses have the potential to transform the lives of blind individuals by providing them with a reliable, intuitive, and scalable solution for navigation and obstacle avoidance. With further advancements in technology and increased accessibility, glasses like Lumen's have the power to empower blind individuals and enable them to live more independent and fulfilling lives.
Scott is a developer who has worked on projects of varying sizes, including all of the PLUGHITZ Corporation properties. He is also known in the gaming world for his time supporting the rhythm game community, through DDRLover and hosting tournaments throughout the Tampa Bay Area. Currently, when he is not working on software projects or hosting F5 Live: Refreshing Technology, Scott can often be found returning to his high school days working with the Foundation for Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST), mentoring teams and helping with ROBOTICON Tampa Bay. He has also helped found a student software learning group, the ASCII Warriors, currently housed at AMRoC Fab Lab.