Selene Chew an Industrial Designer for Clariant is in the process of further developing BlindSpot her final student thesis project that combines an assistant cane, social networking and several feedback mechanisms to help inform visually impaired people if a friend or family member is nearby.
“Their social life is dependent on the people around them. They cannot say hi to a friend without the friend saying hi first,”
Taking advantage of geographically-tagged social applications like Foursquare check-ins the cane can actively locate people and inform the users via an audio message where the person is, if they would like to meet them, ignore them, give them a call or navigate towards them.
The cane recently won 2nd Runner Up in the James Dyson Design Awards and functions by using Wi-Fi, a GPS-enabled smartphone, and a tactile and auditory feedback system to help the user navigate and respond to their environment.
More details about Selene and BlindSpot's development can be found on her portfolio page (pdf)