TechnologyHe invents a smart harness to help blind or...

He invents a smart harness to help blind or visually impaired people get around


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Whether we like it or not, artificial intelligence has already invaded our lives. If some are concerned, the progress of these technologies brings hope for people with disabilities. Many smartphone applications already allow blind or visually impaired people to gain autonomy. Connected white canes detecting obstacles have also appeared on the market in recent months. In the future, a harness could also facilitate their movements.

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We owe this invention to the Swiss start-up Biped, based in Lausanne, which was co-founded by Bruno Vollmer and Maël Fabien. Originally from Finistère, the latter was in Las Vegas at the start of the year to participate in CES, the high mass of tech. A successful trip for the young entrepreneur who left Nevada with two prizes in his suitcases: “the Innovation Award awarded by the International Business Times newspaper and the prize for the Swiss start-up of the year”, welcomes he.

It detects obstacles and anticipates trajectories

Living near the Lausanne ophthalmic hospital, it was seeing patients struggling on the site that Maël Fabien, then immersed in a thesis on artificial intelligence, had the click in 2020. “By helping them to cross or by discussing with them, I became aware of the difficulties that these people encounter when they move,” underlines the young man, aged 25. After putting his studies on hold, he therefore launched himself, with his partner, into the design of this intelligent harness.

The start-up won two prizes at the last CES in Las Vegas. – Biped
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Equipped with 3D cameras, it works on the same principle as autonomous cars. It thus detects obstacles in the way and anticipates the trajectories of cars or bicycles. In the event of imminent danger, the user is warned a few seconds in advance by an audible signal, more or less loud depending on the proximity of the obstacle. “Each sound is different for the twenty objects that the harness is able to identify, specifies the co-founder of Biped. This allows you to better understand your environment and discover new places independently.

A medical device that can be reimbursed

This “co-pilot” for blind and visually impaired people is currently only in the prototype phase. But the project is progressing well, the start-up has just completed a round of funding of one million dollars. During May, industrialization should start with the marketing of the first harnesses scheduled for September.

“It’s a medical device so it can be reimbursed,” he says. This will be the case in Switzerland, Belgium and the Netherlands. We hope it will be the same in France or Germany where the process takes a little longer”. After the European market, Biped plans to conquer America by early 2023. With the hope of helping the millions of blind or visually impaired people in the world to move forward.

Source: 20minutes

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Janice Thomas is a content editor at 24 News Recorder. She has 5 years of journalism experience and she he is a graduate of Wittenberg University and holds a master’s degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.


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