Being blind does not mean the end of the world, but for many, it makes life a whole lot harder since it is tougher to get around. Good thing technology has made leaps and bounds in this area, where technologies used in robots to help them navigate through their surroundings have been modified and adapted to assist the blind folk get around indoor and outdoor spaces without any additional help – certainly a far more technologically advanced solution compared to the humble (but superbly useful) walking stick is needed. Enter this system that is being developed by Edwige Pissaloux and colleagues at the Institute of Intelligent Systems and Robotics at the Pierre and Marie Curie University in Paris, France. Read on after the jump to find out how robotic vision might eventually phase out the walking stick to help the blind get around.

This particular system will comprise of a pair of (hopefully cool looking) glasses that are equipped with cameras and sensors similar to those used in robot exploration expeditions. This system was recently unveiled at a talk at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology this month, where it is capable of producing a 3D map of the wearer’s environment as well as their relative position within, and this map will be updated in real time and displayed in a simplified form on a handheld electronic Braille device.

Should it be perfected, it might eventually enable blind folk to get around without any external help wherever they want to go. Pissaloux said, “Navigation for me means not only being able to move around by avoiding nearby obstacles, but also to understand how the space is socially organised – for example, where you are in relation to the pharmacy, library or intersection.”

Hopefully it will be also smart enough to pick up road signs as well as “read” other kinds of words it detects in the environment. Perhaps specially dedicated QR codes could assist this system in becoming more useful for the blind to get around?

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