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Leading the blind, one Kinect at a time

One thing many of us take for granted and do not think about is our vision. The ability to see objects around us, recognize faces, and move around outside of our homes is something we all do without much thought. But when you take away an individuals vision, all of these task become extremely complicated and takes away the independence of the individual.

At Imagine Cup, team FlyKit from Palestine is targeting this problem with the use of several Microsoft technologies including Kinect. The name of their project is "Blind Guidance System" or "BGS" for short. The idea is simple, to help those who are visually impaired regain independence through the use of a device that is centered around Kinect.

The device is a wheel-mounted platform with a Kinect attached to a backpack that uses Bing maps, voice control, ultra-sonic sensors and vibration to guide visually impaired individuals to a location much like a GPS in a car guides many of us to our pre-determined locations. By providing voice feedback and vibration response to alert the indiviudal of obstacles ahead, the device can safely guide an individual and avoid all types of hazards as they make their journey towards their destination.

The Kinect sensor is the heart of the device as it can spin up to 180 degrees to locate the best path forward, can detect faces and other objects in the way, and also scans elevation to make sure the individual does not venture down a path with significant changes in elevation. 

The device, in its prototype form, costs $500 to assemble, but with mass-scale production that price can be cut in half and the floor could be lowered even further with grants or sponsorships.

The prototype device shows the way forward in helping the visually impaired reagin their independence. The technology behind the device is already on the market and the team is actively targeting governments and other organizations to receive funding and advance their prototype into a full scale production product.

The Imagine Cup competition is all about bringing out innovative solution to everyday problems. By utilizing off-the-shelf components, teams are developing creative products to overcome some of the world's toughest problems.

Interested in Imagine Cup? Want to learn more or even register your team for the 2013 challenges? Head on over to Imagine Cup's website to stay updated on all the events for the 2013 competition. 

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