SBIR Phase I: Hands Free Silent Tactile Obstacle Avoidance System for Blind Travelers

Award Information
Agency: National Science Foundation
Branch: N/A
Contract: 1315792
Agency Tracking Number: 1315792
Amount: $149,500.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2013
Solicitation Year: 2012
Solicitation Topic Code: EI
Solicitation Number: N/A
Small Business Information
4030 Columbia Rd 5 , Magnolia, AR, 71753-8680
DUNS: 055220044
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: Y
Principal Investigator
 Geoffrey Lueken
 (870) 696-3871
Business Contact
 Geoffrey Lueken
Phone: (870) 696-3871
Research Institution
This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project proposes to design, develop, evaluate and specify an ultrasonic blind mobility assistance device that will provide an effective, affordable, lightweight and intelligent navigation assistant for vision-impaired people. Over 46% percent of the 11.4 million visually impaired people in America experience head injury at least once a month of which 23% require medical attention while in motion. The long cane and the guide dog or seeing-eye dog have been the most used method of providing mobility assistance for the blind for decades. Since these technologies focus on lower body protection they can actually lead the unsighted user into an upper body hazard, causing injury rather than protecting the user. A new systems innovation is needed that combines the latest available sensor technology and components with embedded intelligent functions to provide motor related assistance to those with vision disabilities. A new method designed by a blind inventor is proposed to provide hands-free and silent communication of information to these users, transmitting adequate, accurate obstacle-avoidance information for the sight disadvantaged. The broader impact/commercial potential of this project will be an affordable assistive device to accurately and effectively protect the unsighted from head and upper-body injury while in motion. There are 11.4 million people with extreme vision impairment in the US and more than 160 million globally. The resulting design will use modern technology to enhance movement by allowing more freedom and confidence. The Phase I goal is to evaluate, analyze and finalize a system design of a mobility device for the blind that silently and without vibration detect and convey detailed location information about hazards and obstacles that make safe and effective travel difficult. The product is envisioned to be a pair of sunglasses that would contain sensors that would detect objects and communicate when it nears an object within a specified range. The system design will consider pace of technology improvements and maturity of wireless, mobile internet, higher density manufacturing for more capable microcomputers and sensors; forecasts of these ever improving technologies and their product maturity to address system features will be considered as the system transitions to Phase II.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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