EYE 21 device helps the blind to move independently

Engineers from the Universitat Politècnica de València have developed EYE 21, a new device claimed to help the blind to move independently.

According to a statement, EYE 21 is an electronic tool that allows blind people to move autonomously in any environment. The blind, thanks to a pair of sunglasses equipped with two micro cameras and headphones, are able to perceive an acoustic image of the space at which they are pointing.

This tool has been developed as a continuation of the European Casblip (Cognitive Aid System for Blind People) project.

In its first version, the system recognises shapes and replaces them with sounds positioned on the surface of the recognised forms.

The two micro cameras analyse space, create a three-dimensional model of it and associate sound points to points on the surface that is being analysed. In this way, a blind person can reportedly ‘hear’ space and their brain reconstructs its shape from that spatialised sound.

‘We all have a natural ability to talk at the same time as we detect the position of a coin that has just hit the ground. This ability to represent space with sounds without disturbing other activities of the brain is the basis of how this system works,’ said project co-ordinator Guillermo Peris Fajarnés. ‘Combining object-recognition technology with sound representation of space allows a blind person to recreate those sounds and perceive their original shape.’

The researchers claim that the new system will provide a sense of perception of 3D space that is different from sight.

‘We still do not know its limitations, but we do know many of its possibilities.’ At the moment there are four prototypes of it and 10 new ones are intended to be put into operation in the coming weeks.

‘This step forward, which is the fruit of several years’ work and of several research projects, is a further help for blind people to integrate into society and improve their quality of life,’ added Peris Fajarnés.