U-Cane and U-Glass
Undergraduate Capstone Project
Yi Wu, Yizhou Shen, Yutao Gu, Yuxin Yang
U-Cane and U-Glass, short for ultrasonic cane and ultrasonic glass, are designed to take advantage of ultrasonic technology to provide guidance and navigation system for people who have difficulty perceiving their surrounding environment. It is awarded Columbia University Electrical Engineering Department Senior Design First Place.
We see engineering as a way to empower people. We regret to see that sometimes visually impaired people cannot utilize their full potential because of some physical limit that can be easily overcome. This product is dedicated to those who experience visually impairment, but want to actively challenge their physical limits and maximize their full potential with the help of technology.
To be specific, visually impaired people sometimes have difficulties getting around, especially in the places where commutes are long and traffic is bad. The U-cane (abbreviation of Ultrasonic Cane) and U-Glass (abbreviation of Ultrasonic Glass) are smart devices that can provide mobility assistance to visually impaired people by helping them better detect their surroundings. With that is constantly receiving emitting and receiving reflected ultrasonic waves, the microcontroller in the box can determine the relative distance between the user and the obstacles based on the time intervals between the pulses. U-Cane, after done processing the signals, produces beeping signals into the earphone that is plugged in the cane. The beeping frequency will become higher when the user is getting closer to an obstacle and the motor that is embedded in the cane will vibrate when an object is approaching to give alerts. For U-glass, the system will give user voice prompts of how close he/she is from an obstacle and if anything fast moving object is approaching. With the help of U-Cane or U-Glass, visually impaired people will be able to walk around more safely and confidently.