Turkish Smart Cane Navigates Visually Impaired Through Challenging Life

A Senior High-School Student In Turkey, Had Been Struggling In Total Darkness Until A Smart Cane Emerged Into Her Challenging Life.

By Xinhua

Zulal Tannur, A Senior High-School Student In Turkey, Lost Her Eyesight In 2011 And Had Since Been Struggling In Total Darkness Until A Smart Cane Emerged Into Her Challenging Life. “I can clearly say I am not anymore reliant on others. I can freely go out, take a bus and meet friends,” Tannur told Xinhua. “This courage of mine also gave a certain comfort to my family as well.” Her smart cane, We Walk, developed by a Turkish start-up, can detect obstacles up to a certain height and warn its user with a vibration.

Additionally, it provides navigation assistance, reports the hours of public buses, and gives information about the nearest bus stops, thanks to the technology that enables it to integrate with smartphones and smart city applications. Tannur first launched a campaign in 2019 to deliver the cane to more visually impaired people, especially children, in her country. Now she eyes a higher goal: removing the boundaries to reach as many children as possible across the world.

“This is a call for independence,” Zulal remarked. Soon after its launch, Zulal’s campaign received more than 210,000 contributions and she donated over 1,000 smart canes. “The sooner the visually impaired children meet with the cane, the more likely they would be freer and happier,” the young woman said. “We are going through a pandemic period. We need social distancing in every sphere of our life,” she continued, noting the cane is very sensitive in this regard, warning its users precisely in case of a violation of social distancing.

Kursat Ceylan, a young man in his early 30s who has congenital blindness, leads the start-up that developed the smart cane. He studied at a primary school for blind and visually impaired children and graduated from Istanbul-based Bogazici University. “Since my university years, I have been dealing with developing technologies for visually impaired people,” he told Xinhua.

For the last three years, he entirely focused on creating and improving the We Walk technology, in order “to ensure the full and equal participation of visually impaired people in social life.”

“Let’s consider the navigation feature of smartphones. It can be a very complicated process for a blind person and can cause various accidents,” Ceylan explained. He recalled that he was once in New York for a meeting in the United Nations, where he had to hold his phone with one hand to listen to the navigation guidance and the white cane with the other. “At the same time, I had to pull my suitcase. I hit my head to a sign and got injured,” he said.

This news was originally published at Global Times.

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