Kursat Ceylan, who is blind, is the CEO and co-founder of WeWalk, a company that developed and produces a smart cane that uses modern technology to help improve the lives of the visually impaired. The World Health Organization (WHO) says there are 39 million people worldwide who are blind and another quarter of a billion who are visually impaired, and Kursat makes a great point about their situation; “In these days we are talking about flying cars, but these people have been using just a plain stick,” he said. That is why he helped develop the device which has several functions in day to day life.
As a means of protecting people from low-hanging objects and obstacles above chest level, the WeWalk smart cane uses ultrasonic sensors to warn the user of nearby hindrances through vibrations in the handle. Also, the cane can be paired with a smartphone’s Bluetooth system for easy control. In a world of smartphones and google glass it is well past time we included the visually impaired in our convenience technology. “As a blind person, when I am at the Metro station I don’t know which is my exit … I don’t know which bus is approaching … [or] which stores are around me” Ceylan Said. “That kind of information can be provided with the WeWalk.” The cane is integrated with Voice Assistant and Google Maps software, and it can use built-in speakers to inform the user of those nearby stores and infrastructural details that they may not be able to see.
In a world of the able-bodied designing cities and towns primarily for their own convenience it is nice to know that there are those looking after everyone else. The WeWalk is currently being sold for $500 a pop. As the Turkish tech startup gains more traction, the developers hope to eventually pair it with ridesharing apps and transportation services to further improve its navigational abilities and convenience.
The next time your church is having a meeting regarding is design; be it the layout of the inside, or the parking lot, or the entrance, consider those who may not be able to see, or walk, and how they will be able to access the services.