In a future where the world is integrated by technology, FLO lends a hand to visually impaired children and connects them to it. It is a mobility aid powered by Artificial Intelligence that allows precise and safe independent navigation. With machine learning capabilities, FLO understands the children’s usage patterns with a personal and human touch. Its sensitive tactile feedback is intuitive and simple to learn, while a 360* camera gives parents a peace of mind by informing them of their children's whereabouts.
FLO being a mobility aid, aims to help visually-impaired children aged between five to ten years old to move around independently in the absence of their parents or guardians. With the notion of a guide dog in mind, FLO’s design leverages on several contemporary technologies such as Dyson’s Air Multiplier™ technology, in-car radars that prevent collisions, side-following suitcases that follow their owner and Artificial Intelligence such as SIRI in Apple’s iPhones. Presently, majority of mobility aids used are either walking canes or guide dogs. Companies have attempted to tackle the issue of limited guidance a walking canes can provide, by manufacturing canes that emit ultrasonic waves. These waves map the users’ surrounding and translates it into vibration as a form of feedback to users. One particular downside is the heavy and bulky handles, which are uncomfortable and could potentially injure the users’ wrists in the long term.
Guide dogs, on the other hand, are much more accurate than walking canes but it does not come without its limitations. Often overlooked is the social acceptance of where guide dogs in the public’s eye being less than ideal. Racial beliefs and fears of animals are some of the common issues faced by the owners especially when travelling around areas of high human traffic. The cost and upkeep of a guide dog is also expensive. Judging from the trend that technological products are getting cheaper, a mechanical mobility aid will thus seem to be the future’s direction.
One other problem highlighted was that it is uncommon for visually-impaired children to leave their parents’ side as the parents are worried about their child’s safety. This led to high dependency of the child needing the parents to be near them in order to feel comfortable. As such many of the children prefers to keep to themselves and refrain from interaction.
There are studies showing that the dependency of humans towards Artificial Intelligence is ever increasing. With the use of technology and AI, FLO aims to provide a better solution to mobility guidance and emotional support for the user.
Flo // Future Systems // 2019
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