These days, innovations are being integrated into a lot of our day to day items. From smart TVs that run applications and connect to the internet, smart plugs that add automation to your lights, smart speakers that provide voice assistance and can integrate with the other smart devices in your home. It isn’t easy to surprise us anymore with what technology can create. A lot of these technological marvels are geared towards providing entertainment, there are however some that make our lives easier, provide comfort and add a sense of security. Moreover, there are devices that are more beneficial to people who are experiencing a disability. These devices do not just make things simpler for someone with a disability, these devices actually make things safer for people with disabilities.
Once such device is the revolutionary “smart cane” called WeWALK. The WeWALK device attaches to the old-style white cane, changing it into a revolutionary smart cane. This device was recently introduced to the market and is intended to assist blind people in navigating through their environment in a much more efficient and safer way when they are on unaccompanied.
The WeWALK “Smart Cane” is light weight, it only weighs 252 grams (without the white cane part) and only 30cm in length (just for the handle). It also has a long battery life, it has up to 20 hours of battery life (this may vary depending on use).
The WeWALK “Smart Cane” will alert its user with a vibration if there are obstacles such as poles, low hanging trees, traffic signs and the like are near. The device can detect obstacles with an ultrasonic sensor up to 160cm, which is a bit above the average chest level.
The WeWALK device can also pair with the user’s smart phone, be it an apple or an android (Android 4.4 and iOS 10 and above). The device connects to the user’s smart phone via Bluetooth 4.2. Once the WeWALK Smart Cane is paired with the WeWALK mobile application, the user can manage the application integrations with the WeWALK’s touchpad, without the need to hold on to the smart phone. The smart phone can be left inside a pocket or a bag, the user will just need to hold the smart cane and listen to the voice assistant and rely on the integrated Google Maps Software. The WeWALK smart cane also has a built-in speaker and microphone for voice commands and Smart Cane notifications.
One more thing that is notable about this device would be its creator. Since the creator of the WeWALK smart cane is Kursat Ceylan, who is blind himself. He is the CEO and co-founder of the YGA (Young Guru Academy), which is the Turkish non-profit organization behind WeWALK. Since he is blind, Ceylan has firsthand experience with the challenges that blind people like him face daily. This inspired him to invent a device that can provide a significant improvement in the lives if blind people.
Kursat Ceylan actually told CNN, “In these days, we are talking about flying cars, but these people have been using just a plain stick. As a blind person, when I am at the Metro station, I don’t know which is my exit… I don’t know which bus is approaching… which stores are around me. That kind of information can be provided with the WeWalk,”
Currently, the WeWALK application is integrated with Google Maps and Voice Assistant. It will eventually be integrated with information from public transportation, ride hailing and sharing applications as well. As a matter of fact, right now it is integrated with the public transportation services in Istanbul. WeWALK users can learn about the stops and timetables for more than 6000 buses and 15000 bus stops in Istanbul without having to take their phone from their pocket. In the future, information from more cities and countries will be integrated into the application soon and will be installed through software updates.
The WeWalk device is currently being sold on their website for $449. This device will increase the independence of the visually impaired and will encourage their full participation in the community. This device will definitely be a great help to the visually impaired. Hopefully it would become more affordable and accessible to the people who need it as the company gains traction and popularity.