Sight-Stick for the Blind

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The Concept

This group of students believed that they could develop a product that may assist the vision impaired. They believed that the white stick they used to navigate with provided a very limited range of detection as it was limited to sensing obstacles the length of the stick away.

The group wanted to create a "Sight-Stick," which would consist of an electronic device secured to the end of the white stick and produce an audible tone which would vary in pitch according to the distance between it and any object it was directed at. Not only would this provide an early indication of obstacles ahead, but by moving the stick in a sweeping motion and listening to the changing tones, the user would be able to identify details such as open doorways or step-downs, long ahead of actually reaching them.

The Creation

The students first identified which components would be required to build the "Sight-Stick, and then researched online where these components could be obtained. Once purchased, the students carried out tests on each of the components to determine exactly how they would preform in their new application. This would be quite different from what they were originally designed to do!

The key components used in final project were:

  • A laser pen which was used during the research stage to pin point exactly which areas the Sight-Stick was scanning. The laser pen remained in the final product for aesthetic reasons
  • A "Vehicle Reverse Indicator" from Dick Smiths, which in its original form is used to produce a tone proportional to the distance of the back of the vehicle to the garage wall.

The project was a great success and may one day be used by many vision impaired people. "Look" out for it!

During the development of this project, the students also learnt more about:

  • The electromagnetic spectrum
  • Sound waves including ultrasonic frequency
  • Calculating distance by using sound waves
  • Principles of laser light
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