Eighteen-year old Alex Deans from Ontario, Canada will be kept busy this summer as the navigation aid he invented to help blind people with their mobility issues gets ready for its launch. A high school valedictorian, Deans is also getting ready to enter McGill University.
Navigation aid for the visually-impaired
His invention, a navigation system currently called iAid, has four sensors on its belt-like strap wherein a joystick is attached. Sound waves are sent off from the sensors to bounce off objects so that the user is alerted on how far or near he or she is to an object. The system uses GPS and ultrasonic technologies to help the blind get to his destination without any help.
He first started working on the gadget after helping a blind woman cross the street when he was 12 and after six years, his hard work will soon be realized.
Deans spent about two to three years to perfect the coding and programming then brought his prototype to the Canadian Institute for the Blind to show his invention. He made numerous returns to the institute to update his prototype based on their feedback.
The joystick attached to the belt swivels, reacting to the movement of the user. It will move towards the direction where the user is going, tilting away when the user deviates from the course and will gradually move into a vertical position as the user nears his destination.
Acceptance and approval
In May, Dean’s iAid won the 2015 Youth Innovation Award. He was given $2,000 in June at the Ontario Science Center ceremony and he demonstrated how the device is used to school groups and local organizations in the community.
iAid’s debut is scheduled around the last week of August and Deans is working with the Science Center’s multimedia team for a multimedia exhibit for the gadget’s launch. It will take at least two more months for the patent’s approval in Canada and the United States, so he’s excited because it means the gadget can be mass produced.
Deans is thinking about making his device more aesthetically pleasing and smaller. He’s also thinking about teaming up with an institution such as the Foundation Fighting Blindness for distribution rights. If he is able to lower the cost of materials, Deans said the device would be available for about $50 to $70. He is very hopeful that his invention will soon replace canes so that blind people could easily maneuver without needing help from other people or guides.
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