The Magic White Cane Project (White Paper)

I was blind, but now I can see !

NT-John 9:25
"The one thing I do know is that I used to be blind and now I can see!"

The basic Idea

The simple, but yet great Idea to make the blind see is to use an acustic white cane, since blind people -like Stevie Wonder- usually develop an excellent hearing. !
There are already solutions in the market, which improve the functionality of a simple white cane:

  1. the I-Cane
  2. the Ultra Cane
  3. the Laser Cane
However, all canes use a simple vibrating handle, being quite expensive. The blind person has to sweep the ground before him from side to side, while walking along, getting minimum information about her or his environment. So there hasn't changed much in the last 100 years, while on the other hand in today's world pilots fly blindly, relying on their navigation systems, only.

All about Echo Location Click me !

The physics behind the idea

We know, that many animals -like bats and dolphins- use ultrasound rather than their eyes for seeing in the dark. We also know, that there are already blind people, who imitate that super feature by clicking their tongue paying attention to the echo, leveraging their super sensible hearing. Thus, we know, that a blind girl or boy will very easily and quickly learn to see her or his environment by using a magic white cane. Of course, the magic white cane should be connected to a stereo radio headset for maximum "seeing".

By modulating infrasound, the blind will also be able to sense movement of objects like passing cars or bikes even from far distance. The blind will be able to recognize persons by their step. It might be, that at the end of the day, a blind person will see much more, than somebody using his very eyes (to be honest, I am quite sure!).

So rather than tapping, the magic white cane could use state of the art passiv infra and active ultrasound echo location. Infrasound can be modulated up and ultrasound can be modulated down. Thus, the blind person could see the whole sound spectrum.

I would use a standard cheap parking sensor, to start with. Thus, the magic white cane would use proven low cost technology, being affordable for everyone. A typical parking sensor beeps, when detecting an obstacle such as another car. The beeps come faster, the closer the obstacle is, getting continous shortly before contact. By using a standard ulrasound parking sensor system for less than $ 50, drivers can already back their cars, blindly. A standard ultrasound parking system consists of a controller unit, a loudspeaker and 4 ultrasound sensors , running on a 12V battery. I suggest to fit one sensor on a helmet, one close to the heart and the other two sensors close to the knees. Of course each sensor shall beep on a different frequency, in order to differentiate them. I suggest, that the top sensor beeps at a very high frequency, the middle sensor at a lower frequency and the knee sensors at a very deep frequency. The controller unit and the battery shall be carried in a black backpack.

The Magic White Cane The loudspeaker could be replaced by a radio headset !

Ultrasound pictures

Ultrasound pictures are blurred black and white pictures, taken by means of ultrasound. The reason for taking ultrasound pictures is, that you cannot take "normal" pictures, because the object hides under some kind of cover. Ultrasound pictures have become quite common to watch an unborn baby grow in its mother's uterus from outside. Blind people can develop such ultrasound pictures in their mind, especially if they have gotten blind at older ages.

Ultrasound pictures Click me !

The Magic White Roller

The Magic White Roller shall improve a simple standard White Cane by a wheel. Thus, the blind person does not need to hold it up over the ground and swing it all the time. The Magic White Roller shall be lit and make some kind of noise for safety reasons. It might also incorporate a dynamo, which could supply the Roller wirth energy and two or three laser sensors, to detect holes in the ground. The Magic White Roller shall be used in combination with the Magic White Cane. Of course the Magic White Roller shall count any step as well as carry a mobile gps navigation system, that can be operated by voice and tells the blind person where she or he currently is, i.e. streetname and number or even locations like post offices, bus stations etc.

The magic White City~Roller

The Magic White Amulet

The Magic White Amulet will be a very easy to use ancillary gadget for blind people to see, very cheap to produce, requiring very little energy to run it. The magic white amulet will transmit ultrasound on high frequencies. The blind person shall be able to alter the frequency and volume of the signal. Thus, blind children will not have to click their tongues anymore, but use a standard magic microphone and loudspeaker system, which will demodulate the high frequency echo into hearable information, that is ultrasound pictures in a blind child's mind.

By using ultra sound, rather than normal voice, other's will not be disturbed by the clicking at all. In fact, other's will not even notice, that that the person is blind, unless they follow her or him in complete darkness, wondering why the blind person does not need any light to get along.

All about Human Echo Location Click me !

The Magic White Helmet

The Magic White Helmet accrues from the necessity to replace a blind person's eyes by sensors. To accomplish that, we could use optic, ultrasound or even temperature sensors. Of course, such sensors should be built in a helmet on the front and optional on its back. The signal should be transmitted to the blind person's hearing, somehow. We will test, what is best.

The Magic White Jacket

The Magic White Jacket is supposed to provide super protection for blind children against cold, rain and accidents. The Magic White Jacket shall be illuminated somehow, incorporating an emergency phone, a gps navigation system and a credit card. The Magic White Jacket shall also encompass magic white gloves. The magic white gloves will protect blind children for touching objects, which are extremly hot or cold. Optionally the Magic White Jacket encompasses a Magic White Backpack to be filled with water, food and an emergency light.

Magic White Armour

Magic White Armour should be sold in 3 categories:

A magic white amulet for simple ultrasound seeing.
A magic white cane for detecting holes in the ground and accurate temperature analysis.
A magic white helmet for ultrasound super seeing and a magic white jacket incorporating magic white gloves.

In magic white armour the blind child may look like a little asronaut.
Anyway, once developed, all three modules could be sold in one package for a special offer.

Blind Kid uses echo location Watch an amazing video about human echo location.

Ben Underwood died on Jan, 19th 2009.
Imagine, Ben could have used a magic white cane.

In Memory of Ben Underwood

Could it be magic ?

Could the magic white cane become a magic vision for the blind.
I believe, or much better I know it could !

The Magic of Music

Watch the video at least 3 times,
close your eyes and listen to the rhymes.
Be so kind and try to find the pictures in your mind.

Human Echo Location Training in Germany

There is already a community around Ellen Schweizer und Steffen Zimmermann,
that train people on human echo location in Germany.

Anderes Sehen e.V.

A lot of blind children use human echo location for orientation, already. However, the human voice is restricted in its spectrum from 50Hz to 7 KHz and clicking the tongue can get extremly strenuous, especially for little voices. Thus, if we support human echo location by an ultrasound gadget, a blind child will be able to see as good as a bat even in complete darkness, which is much better than somebody with his very eyes. With that super sensibility, blind people could help other people in dangerous situations. For example, they could search for children in complete darkness.

Watch a perfect demonstration of human echo location !

The White Cane Safety Day

The White Cane Safety Day has already been proclaimed in 1964 by President Lyndon B. Johnson and renamed by President Barack Obama to "Blind Americans Equality Day" in 2011. The Celebration is dated on 15th October each year. In contrast to the White Cane Safety Day proclamation, my aim is of course, to make especially blind children get along without a white cane.

Oficial White Cane Day Homepage !

© 2012 Ralf Steffler. All Rights Reserved.
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