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Russian Startup Creates A Wearable Computer For The Blind

Russian startup Oriense is taking sensors and Kinect-like technology in a fascinating direction, replacing walking sticks for the visually impaired with high-tech wearable computers.

Oriense’s sensor-computer combo, which is still in prototype mode, uses software to scan the user’s surroundings; voice prompts then notify the user of objects directly in their path. Konstantin Zhukov, Oriense’s founder, told VentureBeat’s Sean Ludwig that the technology “is about safety and helping the visually impaired–We think it will work best when someone uses both a walking stick and the sensor. But (as it gets more advanced), we think it could potentially replace a walking stick.”

The company has raised $20,000 in pre-seed funding and is one of a number of for-profit firms and academics experimenting with wearable technology for the visually impaired. While the wearable computer works in its current incarnation, it is heavy and somewhat uncomfortable for long-term use. One of the primary challenges Oriense and its competitors will face in the future is making products like this as easy as possible to use and wear.NU