Microsoft engineers developed a VR-cane for the blind

Specialists of the Redmond IT giant were able to adapt the virtual reality for the blind and visually impaired. Now people with serious visual impairments will be able to use a special VR-cane to recreate an unfamiliar path in virtual reality and train in its passage without risk to health and psyche.

The system consists of a belt on which is fastened a long metal rod holding the walking stick, tracker and VR-helmet HTC Vive. The user acts as usual, when driving, feeling the room with a VR-stick. At the moment when it encounters a virtual object, the vibrators built into the cane begin to vibrate, simulating a collision with the object, signaling the user that they need to stop. In this case, headset headphones reproduce the sound corresponding to the characteristics of the object, for example, a dull blow against a metal tank or knock, characteristic of a collision with wooden furniture. In addition, the system simulates other sensations. The user feels that he is walking on a carpet or tile, he can feel that there is a small obstacle in front, for example a curb.

Now the system has difficulties with simulating walls. Similar obstacles can be felt with the help of a VR-cane, but the headset does not transmit the necessary sounds, causing certain difficulties. Nevertheless, even now the system can help visually impaired and blind people to learn a new route without being exposed to danger and stress. Developers have already tested the VR-stick in humans. Eight out of ten participants could navigate without any problems in virtual reality after ten minutes of using the gadget.

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