Empowering the visually impaired

Posted by • November 6, 2010 • Category: In the News

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The best ground-breaking technologies out there are those that help people overcome their limitations

From the desk of
Chandran Nair
Managing Director, SEA
National Instruments

IT has been proclaimed that technology will save the world: that it can help reverse climate change, help reduce the consumption of natural resources, predict natural calamities, and so on. However, what drives most leading tech innovators is the power of technology to make the world more accessible to people.

The best, most ground-breaking technologies out there are those that help people overcome their limitations in order to have a richer, better quality of life. This statement is especially true when it comes to the differently abled – people who have significant limitations in their ability to perform one or more life functions. Nowadays, technology can empower them in ways that are simple life-changing.

Research project
To promote the often underestimated capabilities of the blind and to inspire innovation in the development of blind access technologies, the United States National Federation of the Blind proposed a challenge to design a system capable of providing the blind with an experience never thought to be possible: the ability to drive. The team headed by Dennis Hong at the Robotics and Mechanisms Laboratory (RoMeLa), Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, was the only organisation to accept the challenge. Re-established in 2008 as a senior design team and undergraduate research project within the Department of Mechanical Engineering, the Virginia Tech Blind Driver Challenge (BDC) defined the initial goals for the world’s first working prototype of a blind driver vehicle.

Read the rest of the article at Business Times.

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