A New Ford Concept Helps Blind People “LOOK” out the Window

A New Ford Concept Helps Blind People “LOOK” out the Window

Before rear-view video screens were so common in our vehicles, passengers simply had to keep their eyes glued to the passing scenery and enjoy the view. The landscapes, traffic and occasional cityscape were enough entertainment for them. While those of us with good vision can enjoy such activities, it is not so easy for the visually impaired. Thankfully, Ford has invented a method through which they can also enjoy the view. Here is more on this!

Feel The View technology

Engineers from Ford of Italy got together with GTB Roma and the Aedo Project company to create an innovation known as Feel The View. This was accomplished as part of an initiative to create high-tech products for the visually impaired.

The original prototype for Feel The View is a 9.8 inch square touchscreen tablet. It can be stuck to the car window without obstructing overall visibility for the other sighted passengers. The upper section of the screen contains a control panel that has a camera on it.

Visually impaired people can simply press on a button upon the tablet. This will take a picture of the scenery. This image is immediately pixelated and converted into grayscale. After that, it is recreated on the clear touch screen tablet by use of individual pixels that vibrate.

The tablet can reproduce 255 levels of intensity. They include all the shades of gray. Dark black shades produce the strongest vibrations while pure white is still. The visually impaired person can simply touch the screen and feel the vibrations with their finger. This creates a Braille image in their minds and they’re able to see the scenery!

A New Ford Concept Helps Blind People "LOOK" out the Window

Added sensory stimulation

The unique device can be combined with the vehicle’s Wi-Fi Internet connection as well as its audio system. This delivers increased context for interpreting the view outside the window. This is achieved when the tablet sends the photograph to an Artificially Intelligent (AI) computer in a dedicated Cloud.

This computer proceeds to interpret the elements of the scene into words. In this way, the visually impaired person can hear descriptions of the view as they pass their finger along the image.

Still in the process

The spokesman for Ford Italia is Marco Al Saffi. He has explained that patents are still being filed for this innovative, cutting-edge technology. As a result, they are not yet free to share how Feel The View actually works. What we do know is that the tablet screen contains some light-emitting diodes.

They facilitate proximity sensing. This activates vibrations only in the section of the screen that is receiving haptic feedback. Thus, the parts that are not being touched do not vibrate.

Similar innovations

There are other companies that have tried to bring haptic feedback to a touchscreen display. Disney Research created TeslaTouch. They made use of a technology which produced electrovibrations that could simulate texture. If a finger passed across the screen, tiny discharges of electrostatic energy allow you to feel the image.

There are no moving parts. In addition to that, a stationary finger wouldn’t be able to feel a thing on TeslaTouch. However, it was a ground breaking innovation.

Apple Computers has also delved into the world of advanced sensory stimulation. The company has patented something they call a haptic touchpad. It can locally deform sections of the screen through forcing fluid out through some orifices just under the touch panel. This type of touch pad is ideal for temporarily defining borders, lines or dots. This can create buttons and ridges that a visually impaired person can feel with their finger.

As a matter of fact, the haptic touch pad can create Braille text as well. Known as bubble displays, they can be on or off. This is essentially, black or white. However, they cannot be used to reproduce entire sceneries because this technology cannot create vibrations of up to 255 different frequencies.

Another approach

After Ford announced their invention, technologists from all over the world began to weigh in. According to Frank Markus of Motortrend, he would most likely use piezoelectric nanostructures to perform the vibration. This would accurately reproduce as many shades of grey as necessary for haptic feedback.

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