Mobile orientation aid for blind people
Designed by Lukas Hartz
About the project.
The white cane is a constant companion and extended sense of sight for blind people. However, conventional models can only identify things near the ground. Things at head height or at a greater distance hinder free and safe movement or even become a hazard. Also, for indoor orientation, a conventional cane is often an additional challenge rather than a useful support for people with visual impairments.
ORTO uses a continuous wave radar to scan the environment and then transmits the data to the blind user via vibration feedback. As a handle for the cane, ORTO detects things at head height. In addition, the handle can be removed from the cane and thus used as a mobile aid for indoor orientation. In this way ORTO can replace the cane wherever it is a hindrance or insufficient for orientation. The vibration feedback follows intervals that vary in frequency and intensity depending on how far away an obstacle is. This targeted use of haptic impulses thus creates a precise perception of the environment.
Therefore blind people not only gain freedom of movement, but can now experience environments that were previously hidden from them.
„Project ORTO developed a mobile orientation aid for blind people. Conventional blind canes simply signal a nearby obstacle in the way, while ORTO scans the wider environment and communicates with the user - that's what inspired me. I felt it provides a very meaningful enhancement of the mobility experience and feels safe. It addresses very important design strategies – robustness, simplicity, repairability and the use of sustainable materials - and those are the things that really matter. Simply said design to improve people’s lives.“ – Stefan Schamberg
Academy of Fine Arts Saarbrücken, Germany, Product & Industrial Design