[nfb-talk] Guide Bots

Prows, Bennett (HHS/OCR) Bennett.Prows at HHS.GOV
Thu May 30 13:38:08 UTC 2013


Maybe made by the same firm that made the lithium batteries for the Boeing 787.  (grin.)

-----Original Message-----
From: nfb-talk [mailto:nfb-talk-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf Of Mark Tardif
Sent: Wednesday, May 29, 2013 6:52 PM
To: NFB Talk Mailing List
Subject: Re: [nfb-talk] Guide Bots

I was part of a small group of college students who tested the sonic guide in the summer of 1976.  I was loaned one by our Board of Education and Services for the Blind next semester.  I found the same thing you did, it could supplement the information provided by a cane, but certainly not replace it.  My second semester using it, I got a call from my mobility instructor that they had to comphiscate the devices because apparently one or two of them had exploded.  I never heard anything more about it.

Mark Tardif
Nuclear arms will not hold you.
-----Original Message-----
From: Ed Meskys
Sent: Wednesday, May 29, 2013 9:33 PM
To: NFB Talk Mailing List
Subject: Re: [nfb-talk] Guide Bots

This discussion is interesting, especially the side discussion of needing more info than the cane gives. I became blind, instantly and totally, in 1971, and went to the Carroll Center (then called St. Paul's) near Boston four months later. I had two hours of mobility and orientation a day for 15 weeks, and came out a fairly good cane user. I was also a beta tester for the Sonicguide, which I really liked and made good use of. It used sonar and had a range of 20 feet, and by stereo effect gave the direction of objects up to 30º to either side. It was good at picking up signs and tree branches.
It picked up up curbs, but not down curbs. It was NOT a replacement for a cane, but supplemented it, giving me a better idea of my surroundings. Pitch told you distance, and in a hallway the near and far edges of a doorway had a distinct chord. You could count doorways on both sides as you walked down a corridor. A metal lamppost had a different sound from the rough bark of a tree. When it eventually died, I looked into buying a production model, which I tested, and which was better than my beta. Unfortunately it cost about $2K, a very large amount in the mid-70s, so I did not buy it. It failed because it was so expensive, and it took a hard learning curve to master it. Also, my primary mobility tool is a dog guide, so that removed some of the need for it. However I still wish I could have afforded it at the time.

Ed Meskys


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