Mobility AT: The Batcane (UltraCane)

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Abstract

The use of the long cane by visually impaired people as an obstacle detector is long standing. More recently the basic cane design has been equipped with laser or ultrasound transmitters and sensors and an interpretive human interface to improve its effectiveness, the objective being to allow safe travel by a visually impaired person. This chapter reports an important case study of the steps involved indeveloping an advanced technology obstacle avoidance cane that used bat echolocation signal processing techniques and ultrasonic technology. The final cane design is now marketed worldwide as the UltraCane™.

The chapter reviews the basic technological principles for ultrasonic waves and the advanced signal processing methods used. There is an extended discussion of all the design and construction issues followed by a description of the final engineering and prototype test phase. The chapter closes with an examination of the issues involved in bringing the prototype to eventual commercialisation.