These devices were purchased for the WATAP device lending library and demonstration center with funding from the Washington Department of Services for the Blind. These devices and many others that foster independent living, for people with visual impairments, are now available to borrow or get a hands on demonstration for Washington residents.
The iGlasses and MiniGuide are both designed to be used by blind and visually impaired individuals in addition to a more traditional Orientation and Mobility aid, such as a cane or guide dog. These devices use ultrasonic sensors to detect objects and send vibrations to the user to inform them how far away they are from an object. The iGlasses are made to be worn as glasses and vibrations are felt on the face when an object is detected 10 feet away. The MiniGuide is made to be held in your hand and it can be set to detect objects at 5 different ranges from one and a half feet to 26 feet away. The MiniGuide can also send audio feedback in the form of beeps if headphones are plugged into it. For both devices, the vibrations occur closer together the closer you are to an object.
When using these devices around the office it was clear that they work well at detecting objects and obstructions that were close to the same level as the device. However, they were not helpful for detecting low objects or obstructions such as tables, chairs or trashcans. If the user worried about protecting their head against objects that their cane or dog would not be able to detect, such as a low beam, the iGlasses could be very helpful. The MiniGuide can also be helpful for detecting objects at whatever height you are holding it at and the ability to set its range is useful if you would prefer to detect objects in your immediate vicinity. The MiniGuide’s small size and light body also makes it very easy to carry around, but if you are often carrying many things in your hands, such as groceries, the iGlasses may be more convenient.
Written by Julia Ladner