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Waist-up protection for blind individuals using the EyeCane as a primary and secondary mobility aid.

ABSTRACT

One of the most stirring statistics in relation to the mobility of blind individuals is the high rate of upper body injuries, even when using the white-cane.We here addressed a rehabilitation- oriented challenge of providing a reliable tool for blind people to avoid waist-up obstacles, namely one of the impediments to their successful mobility using currently available methods (e.g., white-cane).We used the EyeCane, a device we developed which translates distances from several angles to haptic and auditory cues in an intuitive and unobtrusive manner, serving both as a primary and secondary mobility aid. We investigated the rehabilitation potential of such a device in facilitating visionless waist-up body protection.After ∼5 minutes of training with the EyeCane blind participants were able to successfully detect and avoid obstacles waist-high and up. This was significantly higher than their success when using the white-cane alone. As avoidance of obstacles required participants to perform additional cognitive process after their detection, the avoidance rate was significantly lower than the detection rate.Our work has demonstrated that the EyeCane has the potential to extend the sensory world of blind individuals by expanding their currently accessible inputs, and has offered them a new practical rehabilitation tool.