The walking stick for the blind has been around since the beginning of blindness. Okay, that was a bad intro, but you see my point: the walking stick hasn’t needed much improvement.
Of course, it is modern human nature to take something that needs to be crude and simple and add technology to it. For example, the Tactile Wand is a walking stick device that uses a distance sensor to detect objects in front of the user. Apparently, the closer you come to an object, the greater the vibration.
Many gadget blogs have been calling this device a “Wiimote for the blind”. I have to admit that there is an uncanny resemblance, and the fact that it has a “shaker” inside won’t remove this particular moniker anytime soon.
However, one shouldn’t discount the device’s ability to genuinely help people. I imagine that a blind person could easily adapt to this device, and increase their mobility without having to use the traditional stick. I am wondering if there is a way to make the Tactile Wand detect potentially harmful things that aren’t solid, such as an open elevator shaft.
The Tactile Wand has a recharging cradle, which addresses another obvious problem: the need for power. You would definitely not want to be a blind person dependent on a Tactile Wand, only to have it fail you at a critical moment.
Right now, the Tactile Wand exists in concept only, but it certainly has great potential.