“It is better than any cane or guide dogs”. That is how a user describes a new assistive device in the market for the visually challenged.
Another 20-yr-old B.Com student says, “I feel liberated. There is a sense of freedom. I am very, very happy.”
Relegating the traditional blind man’s walking stick to the past, a recently developed wearable device in the form of a ring seeks to change the way the blind can move around.
This mobility device can help a blind person navigate his way by sending haptic feedback or vibrations through the sense of touch.
The founder of Live Braille, Abhinav Verma, describes the product as “the only fully wearable ETA (Electronic Travel Aid) that allows you to simply swipe your hand in the air to know your environment in an instant, spot obstacles and walk much faster.”
The ring like device has two ultrasonic range finders that can detect the distance and speed of an object it is pointed towards. What is more, it can also detect whether the object is a wall, a book or a human being in the range of upto 3.5 metres. This is achieved through at least ten different kinds of signals that the device can send through a combination of amplitude and intensity of vibrations.
“Live Braille is 100 times better than the best mobility device widely available across the globe,” claims the 21-year-old Verma. Comparing the device with UltraCane, another popular electronic mobility aiding gadget used wordlwide, Abhinav says, ” Live Braille is much more precise in terms of its feedback which takes 1/50th of a second thus allowing a person to move around faster.”
The weight of the product at 30 gms and its battery life give it an edge over other similar aids, according to Verma.
Live Braille is available in two versions– Mini and Mini E (Education)– for $299 and $700 respectively. In India though Mini is available at a subsidised price of Rs 6999 and has to be procured through an NGO. While a Mini takes 45 minutes to recharge, a Mini E takes 60 minutes but has double the battery life. Mini E can also record and store audio books and be used to listen to them, besides playing FM radio. It comes with a no-questions-asked return policy to boot.
The young entrepreneur based in Chandigarh is a graduate from a university in Punjab and got the idea during an inter-college level competition on developing devices for the blind.
He says, “I wanted to eliminate the whole concept of a cane.”
At the age of 18, Abhinav Verma developed a prototype of Live Braille and got it patented. Finally, in March this year the product was launched and within a span of three months it is already being sold in 16 countries. He refuses to disclose the number of customers but says the figure is “competitive” and that the Royal National Institute of Blind People and American Federation for the Blind are amongst his clients.
Calling Live Braille a “freedom device”, Verma hopes to make his company ‘Embryo S’ an equivalent of Apple for the disabled, and aims at developing assistive products for all kinds of disabilities.