IT IS all too easy for drivers and their passengers to take the views out of a car’s windows for granted. But for the visually impaired, the passing scenery has remained a mystery.
Now Ford believes it can help change that, with a prototype ‘smart window’ that uses vibrations to let a blind or partially-sighted person ‘feel’ a passing landscape.
Called Feel The View, it was dreamed up by Ford’s Italian division in partnership with Aedo, a tech start-up that designs devices for the visually impaired. The system converts a visual image into vibrations of varying intensities so that a blind or partially sighted person can feel the landscape.
Pictures are turned into high-contrast monochrome images, which in turn are reproduced on the glass using special LEDs. By touching the image, different shades of grey vibrate with a range of 255 intensities, allowing passengers to feel their way around the scene and rebuild in their mind the landscape in front of them.
At the same time, artificial intelligence is said to analyse the images and provide audio descriptions.
Although only a concept at this stage, the idea was welcomed by the Royal National Institute for Blind People (RNIB).
Robin Spinks, Innovation and Technology Relationships Manager at RNIB, told Driving.co.uk: “Advances and innovations in technology have already helped transform the lives of blind and partially sighted people.
“And devices like Ford’s ‘Feel the View’ device could contribute to breaking down barriers and making travel more enjoyable and inclusive for people living with sight loss – an ambition we wholeheartedly support at RNIB.”
Ford spokesman Marco Alù Saffisaid: “We seek to make people’s lives better and this was a fantastic opportunity to help blind passengers experience a great aspect of driving
“The technology is advanced, but the concept is simple – and could turn mundane journeys into truly memorable ones.”