Virtual Cane: Sonar technology enables the blind to “see” July 25, 2011 RICCentre By Cheryl Lindsay Technology Focus Currently there are almost 200 million visually impaired people globally, 40 million of which are legally blind, and most face multiple difficulties in orientation and navigation. To assist these millions, there is a new, patented technology that will enable the blind to “see”. Virtual Cane is a new and innovative product that radically advances the current white cane technology. This project was lead by Dr. Amir Amedi of the Institute for Medical Research Isreal-Canada (IMRIC). The virtual cane emits a focused beam towards surrounding objects, and transmits the information to the user via a gentle vibration, similar to a cell phone vibration. The cane incorporates several sensors that estimate the distance between the user and the object it is pointed at. This allows the blind person to assess the height and distance of various objects, reconstruct an accurate image of the surroundings and navigate safely. The virtual cane is extremely small, easy to carry, accurate, can function for up to 12 hours and is easy to charge. Using the device is highly intuitive and can be learnt within a few minutes. I am sure most of us know someone who could benefit from this product and thinking about being able to help that person have their “visions” become a reality is the greatest gift. Cheryl Lindsay is an undergrad student and the University of Toronto, Mississauga. She is currently enrolled in the CCIT program pursuing a specialist in Digital Enterprise Management. Cheryl is a student intern with the RIC Centre acting as Assisting Communications Officer.