Virtual Walking Stick for the Visually Impaired

Jonathan Tolstedt and Maxwell Tolstedt
Fargo, ND

Current navigational aids for the visually impaired include global positioning systems (GPS) and other devices using expensive or complex sensing systems that require setup, calibration, and adjustment. These sensors mount on a cane or directly on the person, forcing the user to put the system on, boot it up, and make sure it is working before venturing out.

The Virtual Walking Stick has a user interface designed specifically for the visually impaired. The patent pending unit contains an integrated satellite receiver and inertial measurement unit that allows the device to know its exact location and altitude at any given moment, as well as orientation (level, tilted, upside down, wobbling, etc.).

It comes pre-loaded with map information describing not only street and landmark information, but information regarding obstacles, so it can direct the blind to doorways, crosswalk buttons, staircases, and around obstacles, such as high curbs or heaves in the sidewalk. It acts like a typical GPS device on level ground, but when approaching an object requiring help in three dimensions, it directs the user to hold the device out to find a crosswalk button several feet off the ground.

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Inoculation Monitoring Device

Birla Institute of Technology, Patna, Bihar India

If a nation immunizes its population today, it paves the way towards a healthy tomorrow. Thanks to advances in medical science, many diseases can be prevented through immunization. One of the reasons why immunization programs fail to achieve their goals is that many families fail to bring their children in for follow-up vaccinations. The lapse rate increases as time goes by. Sending a reminder e-mail or text improves parents’ adherence to immunization schedules.

The Inoculation Monitoring Device is a portable, self-reliant, and cost-effective device to keep track of the vaccines that an infant has already received while providing reminders for follow-ups.

This user-friendly, self-monitored, automated device is first of its kind. It is a single standalone device that features a buzzer accompanied by an audio message. And, it is suitable for all people, including those who may live in remote areas or may be illiterate. This device could help save the lives of millions of young Indians.

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Medical Design Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the November, 2012 issue of Medical Design Briefs Magazine.

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