Student Entrepreneurs Develop Smart Device for the Visually Impaired
The city of Nancy was once the Art Nouveau capital of France. Today it is a smart city, incorporating tagging systems in its municipal infrastructure to give citizens access to data captured from traffic lights, bus systems, crosswalks, and more. Companies are developing technologies that combine this data and location information to solve everyday inconveniences for people. A team of Cisco Networking Academy students from University of Lorraine used this connection of people, process, data, and things to improve life for visually impaired people. They created a networked walking stick that helps users move safely and independently in smart cities like Nancy.
The stick uses ultrasonic waves and GPS technology to gather data from traffic lights, bus locations, and cross walks to provide-real time navigation for the blind. Tagged sensors at different shops and restaurants communicate with the stick, telling the user what the shop sells, where the entrance is, and the business hours. The students developed the stick after Cisco France launched Le Défi, a competition that challenges college students to apply technology to social and environmental issues. Team Handisco won the first-place prize of 70,000 Euro and received the Pepite Award, a National Prize for Innovation from the French Ministry of Education. One of their mentors, Remi Philippe, recently blogged that the Handisco walking stick is the best example of the Internet of Everything that he’s seen.