The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi has developed a high-tech stick to make walking and commuting easier for the country's nine million blind population.
Called "smart cane", the stick will help the visually impaired to easily commute in city buses, walk inside a room without knocking into things and take a safe passage in case of an emergency.
The technology has been developed by students of the computer science department of the IIT in consultation with the National Association for the Blind (NAB). Smart canes will soon be demonstrated in public.
"We know that the current white stick is not helping the blind community much, as they can only navigate up to knee level within a range of one metre," said project coordinator Rohan Paul.
"The new cane can navigate much above the knee level, gauge the obstacle from over a three-metre distance and send radio frequency to a passing public bus to detect the route number," Paul told IANS.
The Rs.50,000-project has a user-triggered wireless identification system, vibration warning signal manager and a battery-driven speaker that can identify and speak the number of a bus.
Dheeraj Mehra, a student associated with the project, said: "The gadget has two parts - vibration technology to detect obstacles and ultrasonic ranger to help commute in city buses."
"While the first part is ready, we are improving on the second part. But to make it possible, a small electronic box will need to be placed at the entrance of a bus, which will respond to the radio frequency sent by the device attached to the cane," said another student Vaibhab Singh.
Ankush Garg, also a student, said a mono-earplug would be provided to the user to hear the number of a bus and get proper directions to reach its entrance and exit.
Paul also said the device, which has been developed after a lot of research and feedback from people in NAB, is capable of detecting fire exits in small and medium size buildings.
"We are going to patent the product and test run it on the streets of Delhi. It may take one year to make it ready for the market," said Paul.
He praised IIT for its financial and technological support and NAB for constant feedback and suggestions.
The project team is hopeful that industry people visiting their technological festival would help them in making the stick available in Indian markets.