Helping the blind ‘see’

  • Education
  • Sunday, 07 Sep 2014

I spy: Muhyiddin (left) and Dr Abu Bakar checking out the innovative spectacles worn by one of the programme's recipients.

A CANE helps a visually-impaired person detect obstacles, but only below waist-level.

However, a new device, created by researchers from Universiti Teknikal Malaysia Melaka (UTeM), addresses this problem.

The device, which are spectacles with built-in sensors, are able to scan the surroundings and alert the user to obstructions above waist-level.

It produces an alarm that informs the location of the obstruction and helps the user to manoeuvre around it.

UTeM vice-chancellor Prof Dr Shahrin Sahib @ Sahibuddin said that the sensors worked like the echolocation system in bats, where ultrasonic signals are emitted and reflect against obstacles.

“The device has four sensors with a programmable chip in each,” said Prof Shahrin, adding that this allowed the device to even detect the proximity of the obstacle.

The spectacles was introduced to the public earlier this month as part of a collaborative initiative by Standard Chartered and UTeM.

Under phase one the programme, called My Second Eye, Standard Chartered donated the first generation of devices to 10 visually-impaired recipients for a trial period.

The recipients will share their feedback to aid improvements to the device.

In phase two, the device will be made available to to the visually-impaired across the nation.

One of the 10 recipients P. Xavier K. Peter said that the glasses felt very comfortable.

“It’s very simple and easy to use,” said the 32-year-old who works as a healthcare masseur.

“We hope the device will improve the quality of life for the visually-impaired in Malaysia,” said Standard Chartered Bank Malaysia managing director and chief executive officer Osman Morad.

Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin gave the devices out to the recipients in a ceremony, saying that he was very proud of the innovation as it was the result of local research.

“I hope this will inspire young inventors to come up with more innovative creations,” he said.

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