“I’ve always wondered how the visually impaired and blind community deal with the challenges that they face on a day-to-day basis. I kind of wanted to be the change I wished to see.”
Riya Karumanchi, Hamilton Spectator, August 28, 2017.
Today, an estimated 500,000 Canadians are blind or partially sighted. An estimated 5.59 million more have an eye disease that could cause sight loss. Blind Low Vision accessibility needs are increasing. Navigating through city streets is a task that Riya Karumanchi thought could be made more convenient – and much safer – by transforming the traditional, white cane into a tech-based device. In a word, make it “smarter”.
Riya, by the way, is a high student in Halton Region.
Riya’s “SmartCane” is packed with guidance technology through sound waves and GPS. The SmartCane uses subtle vibrations: a single buzz indicates “left”, a double buzz means “right.” And it has an “ultrasonic proximity sensor” warning users of possible obstructions overhead head or above knee level.
Last summer, Riya attended Ryerson University’s DMZ Basecamp 2018, Canada’s first annual summer incubation program for youth. The eight-week program will help SmartCane take the next step and benefit more people with accessibility needs.
Statistics provided by “Blindness in Canada”. CNIB. 2019.