An innovative new Assistive Technology called the eCane is anticipated in the market based on a patent that has just been announced. It uses a combination of old and new technologies to produce a smart cane for people who are blind, or deaf and blind (deafblind). It provides communications and navigation on numerous levels. Moreover the eCane is not limited by the restrictions that GPS units have by not being able to function indoors or near tall buildings.
The device can tell a blind person if a specific object is in the immediate area. For example, if a person is in a hotel lobby, the eCane can tell the user if there is an elevator, or a restroom in the immediate area. After receiving a command, the cane will guide the person to an elevator or restroom, and in the case of the restroom tell if it is a men’s, women’s, or coed restroom. An important feature of the eCane is the ability to correct any deviations in the course towards a destination.
When a user is walking in the street, the eCane can inform a person what stores are in the area and how to get to a specific store in which they have an interest. The device can also tell a person which street they are on and when they reach an intersection, it will inform them of the name of the cross street as well.
Communication for and with Deafblind Users
One of the most exciting aspects of the eCane is its communications capability. This capability is enabled by an innovative use of both old and new technology. Using the eCane a person who is both deaf and blind can communicate with others regardless of whether they are deaf or hearing. The person who is deafblind would know what the hearing person says and the hearing person will hear a voice that says what the deafblind person has said by communicating it to the eCane. The person who is deafblind communicates by keying into the eCane what they want to say by using Morse code. The cane translates the response from the hearing person into Morse code and vibrates the code to the deafblind user. The eCane uses voice recognition technology to translate the response from the hearing user into Morse code. Using the eCane a deafblind person can now have a conversation with a hearing person without having to rely on an interpreter to do finger spelling in the palm or his or her hand.
About the inventor
Dr. Ron Liebermann, the inventor of the electronic cane is the president of Signtel Inc., the makers of the acclaimed Signtel Interpreter that was developed with a team that included over100 deaf employees of Signtel. Among his many inventions, he holds patents for the Telephone for the Deaf, which allows communication between hearing and deaf persons, without utilizing the relay service, The Fast Cash Transactions (FCT) – the forefather of the mobile electronic banking system and a TV for persons who are both deaf and blind.
Ron Liebermann has a Ph.D. in astrophysics from the University of Oxford, England. He was an associate professor of physics at the Federal University in Brazil and later moved to Yale University where he worked on the Hubble Telescope. His social contributions predate his work on behalf of deaf, blind and deaf-blind persons, volunteering time in his community. He created the New Haven Police Stress Unit and later the New Haven Police Hostage Negotiations Team together with former Chief Bill Farrell, for which he received a letter of commendation from the Board of Police Commissioners and also an award from the City of New Haven. Dr. Liebermann also headed a successful startup company in telecommunications.
Dr. Liebermann is the first to acknowledge that in order to stay focused, yet bring the eCane product to market he needs to team up with others and says he’d welcome any interest from seasoned entrepreneurs, business people and companies to usher such products to market. Dr. Liebermann can be reached at Signtel 203-248-0600 or via the Contact Us form at Signtel’s web site (www.signtelinc.com).