Toyota is exploring its catchphrase, “Let’s Go Places,” from an unexpected angle.
The Japanese automaker has developed a wearable device aimed at assist the blind and visually impaired. It’s a gadget worn around the shoulders that will help people navigate their surroundings, filling “the gaps left by canes, dogs and basic GPS devices.”
Toyota announced the new initiative, “Project BLAID,” on its blog this week. According to PCMag.com, the company will begin beta testing the device soon.
“We want to extend the freedom of mobility for all, no matter their circumstance, location or ability,” Toyota North America’s chief administrative officer Simon Nagata said in a statement.
The device will be equipped with cameras to detect the user’s surroundings, as well as speakers and vibration motors that’ll relay information.
“It will help users better navigate indoor spaces, such as office buildings and shopping malls, by helping them identify everyday features, including bathrooms, escalators, stairs and doors,” said the blog post.
In a video introducing the device, Toyota said it hopes to eventually add other features, like mapping, facial recognition and object identification, to BLAID.
“This has the ability to transform and change people’s lives,” said project engineer Rajiv Daval in the clip.
As Tech Times noted, Toyota wasn't the first company to announce an initiative of this kind. In November, Microsoft, in collaboration with the British charity Guide Dogs, revealed a souped-up smart headset geared toward helping visually-impaired people navigate their way around cities.