The technology to support the independence of the blind. This is the idea behind LETIsmart, a device applied to the traditional white cane for the blind that will allow visually impaired people to orient themselves and interact with the urban environment by moving independently: “Technological innovation can improve the quality of life of people with visual impairment, but it is not about sweeping what has been acquired to date. It should not be mythologized by always remembering that it will continue to be accompanied by traditional solutions such as the white cane, the guide dog and the Braille method for education and reading , which remain irreplaceable. The stick, however, can be implemented with digital help that provides valuable information such as the status of traffic lights, the number of buses arriving, train tracks and more “, explains Mario Barbuto, national president of the Italian Union of the Blind and Visually Impaired. The city of Trieste was the national forerunner, where the device was also conceived and developed and from which the path of implementation on a national scale kicks off.
Uici has hired LETIsmart as a national reference standard by signing a development partnership agreement with the Trieste-based Scen. The LETIsmart system, by affixing a tiny microchip (weighs 8 grams), allows the traditional white stick to communicate with the different points of interest and to communicate with the environment under different aspects: from the identification and interaction with public transport and traffic lights, orientation in shops, schools, offices, including the management of difficult situations such as work in progress, emergency exits and any other point that must be identified and reached precisely.
The solution uses beacon technology and provides information with an integrated loudspeaker, without the need for a smartphone. For this reason, LETIsmart is within everyone’s reach and can be integrated with commonly used orientation tools such as tactile-plantar systems, the white cane or guide dog for the blind, but increases the capacity for autonomy and independent movement to a million and a half of blind, severely visually impaired and visually impaired people present in Italy, and also in the case of motor disabilities or in reduced visibility conditions, because it lights up itself when it gets dark.
Two buttons on the handle are enough to select the type of use (traffic lights and streets, buses, shops or interiors). they can configure by connecting the stick to a pc.
The battery is recharged via the microUSB socket. The device was conceived by Marino Attini from Trieste, an expert in visually impaired electronics, and created as an ethical project by Scen, a company in the lean prototyping sector with electronic micro-components.
After the Trieste experience, Uici is spreading the system to other cities. LETIsmart will soon be available in Mantua and Como, on the Civil Protection campuses in Tuscany, at Bocconi University and in the center of some cities such as Milan, Matera, Padua, Turin and Florence: “In addition to cities and public transport, the system will be adopted from archaeological and tourist sites such as that of Paestum – concludes the president – to offer the blind and visually impaired historical and tourist information “.
di Giulia Cimpanelli