Toyota’s Project BLAID Involves Wearable Mobility Device for the Blind
This morning, Toyota announced that a very inspiring project with which it is involved will be entering beta testing soon: wearable mobility devices for the blind and visually impaired. It’s called Project BLAID, and it’s actually really cool.
WATCH: Toyota’s Project BLAID Wearable Mobility Device, Explained
According to Toyota, Project BLAID is representative of what the brand hopes to achieve in terms of “enrich[ing] lives by advancing the freedom of mobility for all.” Project BLAID is just one piece of The Toyota Effect, which is Toyota’s own initiative to highlight all the important ways in which Toyota is partnering with other non-profits, companies, and more to make a positive impact on and in the world around us.
Specifically, the Project BLAID wearable mobility device is intended to fill in the gaps left by canes, service dogs, and GPS devices. The user simply dons the device around their shoulders, and the device uses cameras to take in the user’s surroundings. It then takes that information to provide instructions to the wearable via speakers and vibrations.
“Project BLAID is one example of how Toyota is leading the way to the future of mobility, when getting around will be about more than just cars,” remarked Simon Nagata, Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer at Toyota Motor North America. “We want to extend the freedom of mobility for all, no matter their circumstance, location or ability.”
Toyota sees this type of device being useful to a user in a store or an office building, for example, where the device could help locate restrooms, elevators, and more. Reportedly, Toyota eventually aims to integrate other functionalities, including mapping, facial recognition, and object identification.
“Toyota is more than just the great cars and trucks we build; we believe we have a role to play in addressing mobility challenges, including helping people with limited mobility do more,” said Doug Moore, Manager of Partner Robotics at Toyota. “We believe this project has the potential to enrich the lives of people who are blind and visually impaired.”
To help jumpstart the testing, Toyota is encouraging its own employees via a company-wide campaign to submit videos of “common indoor landmarks” around different Toyota locations. Developers for Project BLAID can then use these videos to “teach” the wearable device to recognize these common landmarks at Toyota offices and factories.