IBM's latest app helps visually impaired users stand in socially
Nearly one and a half year after the novel coronavirus was first
detected, countries in various parts of the world are still
implementing rolling lockdowns and curfews while encouraging
mask-wearing and social distancing. While these are designed to
prevent the spread of the virus, people with disabilities may have
difficulty observing these rules in public places.
A team of researchers at IBM is working to change that, with the help
of the new LineChaser application, using AI to help visually impaired
people maintain a safe distance from others around them, as spotted by
SlashGear. Instead of relying on a single camera, the app uses data
from two sensors to help users measure the distance between themselves
and the person in front of them.
Using software to make use of information captured by the device’s RGB
and infrared depth sensors, to keep track of people in their
surroundings – the former is used to detect people nearby, while the
infrared sensor is used to measure their distance from the user. It
then provides them with audio and haptic feedback. On the basis of
these responses, visually impaired users can then decide whether they
need to move forward in a line or stay put.
According to the IBM researcher Hironobu Takagi, the app was tested on
participants with various disabilities and helped all of them
successfully managed to reach the end of a line, while visually
impaired users were able to stop at an ‘acceptable position’ 91.7
percent of the time if they were following a line. Takagi also said
that participants in the trial gave the system a high usability score,
while reporting higher confidence and comfortableness when they were
standing in line. sWe hope that more visually impaired people can benefit from our
Speaking to disability sausage media Takagi said they also hope that with time, the social acceptance of the use of camera devices in public spaces will improve. They found the acceptance was already high if a blind person used a device for
assistive purposes, but we think that as a society, we need to improve our understanding of such technologies”. Join us in the disability sausage YouTube channel for much mouthwatering articles
The views expressed here are for the author and do not represent any agency or organization.
Mugambi Paul is a public policy, diversity, inclusion and sustainability expert.
Australian Chief Minister Award winner
“excellence of making inclusion happen”