This Smart Cane Uses Google Maps and Sensors

WeWalk was developed by a visually impaired man to help people navigate safely

Nov 10, 2019

Cities are wonderful places to walk in. There are new adventures around every corner, but cities can be difficult to navigate on your own. So, if you get lost, no problem. Just whip out your smartphone and google maps can show you the way. If you are looking for the right subway or bus, Waze, Moovit, or HopStop has you covered.

But if you are visually impaired, navigating a city can be very difficult. A UK report from the Department for Transport found that people who have mobility issues took 39 percent fewer trips than people who do not have any physical disabilities.

Now, there is a high-tech solution that will make navigating a city easier for people who are visually impaired. It’s a new revolutionary smart cane that is very aptly called WeWALK made by a Turkish tech startup. The cane can detect obstacles above chest level with an ultrasonic sensor that emits a vibration.

If you pair WeWalk with a smartphone via Bluetooth, getting navigation help is really easy and you do not even have to hold the phone. Paired with Voice Assistant and Google Maps software, there are built in speakers that will tell you when you have reached your destination.

WeWalk CEO and co-founder Kursat Ceylan – who has been visually impaired since birth – told CNN that he helped to develop the cane because he wanted to visually impaired people to be able to use modern technology.

"In these days we are talking about flying cars," Ceylan said; "but these people have been using just a plain stick."

Connecting the smart cane to the internet makes cities much more accessible. "As a blind person, when I am at the Metro station, I don't know which is my exit ... I don't know which bus is approaching ... which stores are around me. That kind of information can be provided with the WeWalk," he said.

The Cane is easily controlled with a touchpad. The battery lasts up to five hours. WeWalk currently sells for $499 and is available in English and Turkish.

"These are all really exciting initiatives that will make a huge difference to some people," said Anna Lawson, the director of the Center for Disability Studies at Leeds University in the UK. "But they are very expensive ... they're not going to be available to the vast majority of disabled people," she added.

Once the startup is more established, founders hope to expand the languages and to pair the smart cane with ridesharing apps to make it even more user friendly. This is just the first generation of smart devices for people with disabilities. The future may be unlimited.

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BONNIE RIVA RAS, EDITOR & WRITER
Bonnie Riva Ras has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.