Family Life

Visually impaired woman creates a smart buggy to help blind parents

A visually impaired woman has designed a smart buggy to help blind parents. 

Ramona Williams, 34, from Fulham, London, got the idea for the Smart Buggy after struggling to manage her cane and niece's and nephew's stroller and her walking stick. 

Williams has a series of eye conditions including congenital toxoplasmosis, impairing her vision since birth, but that has not stopped her living life to the fullest. 

“I want the option to have children but I know there are barriers to that, including travel,” she told The Huffington Post. “When I have tried to navigate my nephews and nieces in a buggy with a cane I realised how inaccessible it was to use both.” 

Finding out about an innovation session being run by Imperial College London, William went along and submitted her idea. since October 2017, she has been working to make that design a reality. 

The enthusiastic team of second year biomechanical engineering students were excited to be pushed out of their comfort zones and understand the challenges faced by visually impaired people.

The buggy has sensors on the front and a holder at the bottom of the buggy where the users smartphone is inserted. The smartphone then tracks the ground ahead of the buggy.

The information is then sent to a smartphone app which can recognise certain obstacles like braille bumps, corners, and drop-offs. The app then send signals to vibration monitors in the strollers handlebars. 

By using different types of vibrations, designers created a touch-based language for telling the user when they are approaching hazards.

The buggy also has a cane holder and a "Visibly Impaired Parent" sign. 

“Now there is a pushchair in the world that can sense its surroundings,” Williams said. “The prototype will very soon be presented to the public and then coming home with me, but my hope is that it will be marketed so it can be affordable for those who need it. I’m excited about having a product that will not just help those with sight loss, but also work towards people understanding the difficulties faced.”

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