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For Decades, the Blind Have Used Canes. Now a Special Wristband Can Help Them Avoid Hazards

Peter Holley - The Washington Post
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November 10, 2017
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Sunu has developed a wristband that emits a silent, high frequency sound and vibration to alert the visually impaired of obstacles within their environment (Jhaan Elker/The Washington Post)

Watching Fernando Albertino stroll down a crowded sidewalk into downtown Washington during a recent lunch hour, casually sidestepping pedestrians running errands and crowding around food trucks, you’d have no idea he is legally blind.

Albertino easily blends into the flow of human traffic swirling around him, which is even more remarkable considering that he is doing so largely without the use of his limited vision.

His secret: a wrist band called Sunu that emits a high-frequency sound wave that bounces off objects as far as 14 feet in front of him before registering as a gentle, pulsing vibration on his arm.

The closer the object is – whether it’s a wall, trash can or person – the more frequent the pulses become, allowing Albertino to create a mental map of the world around him using echolocation. He compares the device to sonar being used in vehicles to sense nearby objects and avoid crashes.

Albertino, who grew up in Puerto Rico, is part of a team of entrepreneurs from Mexico who built Sunu from scratch and are hoping their invention changes the way visually impaired people get around.

For the visually impaired, smartphone apps can help them hail a ride, link to real-time maps and get to the nearest convenience stores. But there is no app for avoiding a tree branch obstructing a sidewalk after a storm or walking through a rush-hour crowd, not to mention finding an office in an unfamiliar building or the closest restaurant in a new neighborhood.

It was those kind of challenges, which can fill an ordinary day with physical hazards and extreme complications, that led Albertino to develop Sunu.

Read the rest at The Washington Post

  Check out Discapacitados Visuales - The Visually Impaired


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