This article details how young people from Syria developed a smart cane for people with visual impairments
that can detect horizontal and vertical obstacles, inform the cane’s holder of their location, and costs eight times less than similar products in the global market.
In a country ravaged by 11 years of war and conflict, around 28% of the population in Syria lives with some form of disability, 13% of whom are visually impaired according to the Humanitarian Needs Assessment Programme.
Driven by their empathy and concern for a visually-impaired neighborhood friend, when hearing about the opportunity presented by Generation Unlimited, four young people from Homs, Syria, got together and formed the Techno-Blind team.
Together, they came up with ‘Project Echo’ to support people with visual impairment and enhance their independence and quality of life. Their first product is a smart cane that offers several features.
‘Lead me Safely’ detects horizontal obstacles and pits. It alerts the user through vibration or an alarm. 'Great Beholder’ is a smart voice navigation system, where with a click of a button, the system can identify the user’s location and with a longer press, the user can pick out a destination via voice command and the relevant instructions are given through the cane. 'Tell me What’ is a sensor that recognizes the different paper money notes. With ‘Smart SOS’ the cane gives a siren if dropped for 10 seconds so that the user can locate it. If it is not picked up for longer, the cane sends an SMS to a pre-set emergency contact number. The cane is made of paper-based carbon fibre, so ‘Project Echo’ is eco-friendly!