Cane Navigation System

Carleton University / 2011

This design for a navigation system for people with visual impairment involves augmenting a familiar tool: the ‘White Cane’. It was augmented with technology to improve the user’s awareness of their surroundings. This was developed as an in-depth research project at Carleton University.

I interviewed people who were blind and partnered with CNIB to learn the nuances of navigating space with a ‘white cane’. After researching technology, solutions were developed and tested with working prototypes.

The system uses a pre-installed tactile strip with embedded NFC tags (near-field communication tags). These are readable by the cane, effectively locating the user is a pre-programmed space. Contextual information is shared with the user through auditory cues, giving the user more independence, while the strip gives assured, physical feedback.