[nfb-talk] Interesting Electronic Travel Aid

Jack Heim john at johnheim.com
Fri May 5 17:32:52 UTC 2017

Even the cheapest digital camera can adjust to low light way faster and 
detect light at far lower levels than the human eye.

On 05/05/2017 10:59 AM, Judy Jones via nfb-talk wrote:
> I can see some drawbacks right away with the walk pro using light.  For
> instance, how will you navigate with at night?  When going from a sunny side
> of the street into, say, a darkened theater, or to the shady side of the
> street, is there any lagtime for the unit to catch up in navigation?
> Judy
> -----Original Message-----
> From: nfb-talk [mailto:nfb-talk-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf Of Buddy
> Brannan via nfb-talk
> Sent: Friday, May 5, 2017 4:02 AM
> To: nfbp-talk at yahoogroups.com; NFB Talk Mailing List; NAGDU Mailing List,
> the National Association of Guide Dog Users
> Cc: Buddy Brannan; International : Embro S
> Subject: [nfb-talk] Interesting Electronic Travel Aid
> Hi y'all,
> A couple weeks ago, something came to my attention that, if it really lives
> up to what they promise, could finally be something actually innovative in
> electronic travel aids.
> For a while now, we've all seen that next great new thing that will promise
> to reduce or even eliminate the need for a white cane or guide dog, or so
> the popular press surrounding such announcements would usually have it.
> These things always had one really glaring problem. Well, a couple of them,
> but one huge problem. They would detect obstacles, but that didn't help much
> for things like steps, curbs, dropoffs, holes, and terrain changes, things
> that a cane, or a guide dog, alert to in the natural course of their use.
> I've said that whole time that if someone can crack that particular problem,
> I'd be interested in listening, but until then, I didn't consider any of
> these supposedly helpful products terribly interesting. Especially since
> many of them would take up a hand, and you're already using one of those for
> a cane or guide dog.
> A couple weeks ago, a startup in India started following me on Twitter, and
> I started looking at what they were doing. Oh, look, it's another electronic
> travel aid. But, wait, they claim what? That you can *run* without the need
> for a cane? Color me skeptical. I asked for more information, and got it
> yesterday. I also called and managed to have a chat with the CEO of the
> company, Live Braille (or Embro...I see both names, but it's
> livebraille.com). Here's what I've found out.
> For the past year, this company has made a wearable electronic travel aid
> called Live Braille Mini. Very like other similar things, it uses sound to
> detect obstacles at up to 3.5 meters away in long range mode, or 1.5 meters
> in short range mode. That's close to 12 feet and about 4.5 feet,
> respectively. But then, it gets interesting. First, it really is wearable,
> as it's a ring you wear on your finger. I expect it's a rather large ring,
> but nonetheless, a ring, massing 29 grams, or weighing just a smidge over an
> ounce, according to Google. Using various vibration patterns, they claim
> something like 117 distinct patterns, and sensing at 50 times a second, the
> company claims one can not only detect the distance from an above ground
> obstacle, but also its speed, and even what kind of obstacle it is, as you
> can get an idea of your environment by waving your hand. There's apparently
> a video of a blind kid chasing a sighted volunteer using only the Live
> Braille Mini. Pretty impressive, especially for $299.
> But here's the really interesting bit. I'm told a newer product will ship in
> July. The Live Braille Walk Pro is also a ring. It's smaller than the Mini,
> runs for two hours on a charge, but comes with a charging case that extends
> that by quite a lot. Like the mini, it uses vibration to indicate speed,
> distance, etc. Unlike the Mini, however, it uses light rather than
> ultrasound. This means it's water resistant, perhaps even waterproof, and,
> I'm told, the performance should not degrade over time as a device using
> ultrasound would. It also will detect ground level obstacles like steps,
> holes, curbs, and the like. The cost for the new device is considerably
> higher, at a retail of $1499 and a preorder price of $1199, but it comes
> with insurance and a lifetime warranty, as well as a personal setup and
> orientation call. "Think of it as like buying a high end luxury car", said
> Mr. CEO.
> So, putting my money, literally, where my mouth is, after saying that an ETA
> that would detect steps and such would be worth something, I bought one at
> the preorder price. I'm the ninth person to order one, so this is pretty
> new. The company tells me that there are 10,000 or so Live Braille Minis out
> in the world, in the hands of blind people inIndia, the UK, and South
> America.
> The website is clearly not designed with a thought that blind people might
> use it. There is, for example, a video that autoplays but has no nonvisual
> content that's useful to tell what it's showing, just music. There are
> unlabeled graphics. There are tables used for layout. Even so, I was able to
> place my order and do a bit of reading. The site is at
> http://www.livebraille.com
> If you're the adventurous type and want to buy either a Mini or preorder a
> Walk Pro, you can, and you can even get a discount. There's a bit of a
> misprint if you select to preorder a Walk Pro. It says the preorder price is
> $300 on the radio button to select the preorder, but it corrects in your
> cart to show the actual price of $1199. Payment is through Paypal, which
> means you can use Paypal Credit if you want to pay it off over time.
> For $59 off the preorder of the Walk Pro, use this coupon code:
> For $29 off the purchase of a Mini (which is in current production), use
> this coupon code:
> X29Y86K9PRLV
> If, on the other hand, you're justifiably skeptical but are interested in
> what happens when it releases, I'll definitely be sharing my experience with
> the Walk Pro when it gets here.
> BTW, no, I'm not planning to give up my guide dog. This does, however,
> appear to be the year for technology, since I'm also getting Aira in June,
> and then there are these low cost braille displays. And also the Tap virtual
> keyboard. ...
> Happy travels,
> --
> Buddy Brannan, KB5ELV - Erie, PA
> Phone: 814-860-3194
> Mobile: 814-431-0962
> Email: buddy at brannan.name
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