Walking into a crowded space like a mall, marketplace, stations etc. have always been a nightmare for the visually impaired or blind people. In spite of aids like a walking stick often lands them in a tight spot where they bump into people and objects, and very rarely hurting themselves or the others in the process.
Looking at their ordeals, Nelson Ayala has engineered a product that could end all these woes and make an outing in the mall just what it is supposed to be, fun. SUAM or Sistema Universal de Apoyo a la Movilidad (Universal System to support mobility) is a technological system that will help blind or the visually impaired to navigate through places like train stations, airports and malls without the assistance of anyone and that too in a very secured manner. The system works by converting the incoming signals from the infrared emitters into audible messages. These audio messages are then sent to a portable device that the user carries with him/her attached to the ear. The message tells the name, commercial nature of the business and the location of the selected object, which helps in aiding and making the navigation through crowded places a lot easier.
Whenever the user presses the central button, the device starts operating by scanning the surrounding area for the closest infrared emitter signal which may be located at places like offices, stores, bathrooms etc. Upon receiving the signal an audible message is activated which is sent to the user to provide the details of the location. This audible signal is directly heard on the earpiece which helps the user to imagine a mental picture of his/her surrounding thereby easing the problem of navigation in thronged places.
The state-of-the-art design is devised to complement the anatomical structure of the hand where-in the easy curves of the device ensues maximum comfort for the user. Along with the design, the tactile design on the surface of SUAM helps in reducing the slippage by providing strong hold on the device.
Though SUAM can be of immense help to those with vision problems, how well a blind or visually impaired person interprets a location based on just audio data remains to be seen. It can take a while for someone with absolutely no experience of such a device, to understand the audio instructions and navigate through a crowded location. But despite all the initial hitches, SUAM can actually be a boon is disguise and can be the eyes for many visually impaired people.