If you are visually impaired, you don’t get to enjoy the scenery around you – especially in a car, which will often insulate its occupants from outside noise. Ford has created technology that should make car journeys more interesting and engaging for blind or partially sighted people.
In partnership with Aedo, an Italian tech start-up that designs aids for the visually impaired, Ford has developed a device that vibrates the car’s window to let people ‘feel’ the landscape they’re otherwise missing out on.
The device sticks onto the window and has a built-in camera. When the user clicks the button, a photo is taken and converted first into a monochrome image, then vibrations. Each shade of grey translates to a different vibration, and there are up to 255 levels of differentiation. As a result, the person can make out the landscape in front of them by drawing their finger across the window.
Alongside the touch feedback, an audio assistant plays through the car’s speakers. It provides audio descriptions for the view, so the person can understand what sort of landscape they’re experiencing.
This technology could be especially useful when autonomous cars are more prevalent, as people with a visual impairment will be able to enjoy enhanced freedom and independence. While it’s only a prototype at the moment, it’s easy to think that this device could open the world up for blind and partially sighted people.