The Times of Oman.
Sunday, August 06, 2006.
Guide dogs may soon be out of a job thanks to a high-tech pair of glasses and shoes invented by Hong Kong scientists that help blind people navigate the trickiest of terrain, a report said yesterday.
The researchers at Hong Kong Polytechnic University say the glasses and shoes, which have a built-in computer, can detect objects within close proximity through echo location then send a vibrating warning signal to the wearer.
"Ultrasonic waves are sent out and when they bounce back they are interpreted by a receiver.
"Once an obstacle is detected the shoe will vibrate, perhaps increasing in intensity as the obstacle gets closer," Research Institute of Innovative Products and Technologies director Wallace Leung Woon-fong was quoted as telling the Sunday Morning Post.
The shoes will use GPS (Global Positioning System) to tell the wearer where he is and which direction he is going in.
"The shoe will be able to detect steps, holes in the road and obstacles within a 5cm vertical distance," Leung said.
The innovations are based on the award winning "electronic bat ears" sonic glasses developed by the university's Professor He Jufang, which use similar technology to relay to the wearer information such as size and distance of an object.
But some blind people expressed reservations about the inventions.
"There are so many bumps in Hong Kong's road. If I wear the shoes I will end up shaking and vibrating all day," the Post quoted Chow Wing-cheung as saying. - AFP
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