Skip to main content

AUSION Mobility Aid for the Visually Impaired

AUSION Perspective View
India
Accessible Product

Global Elevate Awards Winner 2016

Category: Assistive Technology, Made in India,

Nomination Details

Organization name: InnovationHub Technologies Private Limited

Launched Date: 2015-08-01

Who has created it: Padmanabhan S N

Problem statement and how the Accessible Innovation solves the problem.

Importance of Mobility: Movement is an opportunity to gather sensory information, to communicate and to make choices, resulting in increased motivation, independence and safety. Mobility involves the actual movement from place to place. Mobility enables the visually impaired to be independent both indoors and outdoors – be it a classroom, work place or home. It enables them to negotiate any obstacles or hazards. Increased independence boosts their confidence and self-respect. Mobility enables them the freedom of movement as well as minimizing their levels of stress in doing so. In addition, mobility enhances their access to education and training, which in turn leads to increased productivity levels.

A mobility assistive device will enable the visually impaired individual to find and navigate a safe path ahead of him/her. It helps them to move about in unfamiliar areas and enhances their sensory awareness and spatial perceptions.

AUSION – Electronic Mobility Aid: Over the past couple of decades, the visually impaired have been using the long cane, guide dogs and guides as means for being mobile. In India, which has the largest number of people with visual disabilities in the world, there is a hesitation with the visually impaired to such aids because of social stigma and affordability issues. Though the long cane is widely made available, its use has been limited. Very often they resort to tagging along. People using the long cane face hazardous situations that they are not able to detect, because of limitations.

AUSION is an innovative electronic mobility and travel aid for the visually impaired. Based on the principle of echolocation, AUSION enables people with severe visual disabilities to move around indoors and outdoors with confidence and least assistance. AUSION acquires information about the environment, especially objects and obstacles and translates them into sounds that can be heard. The interpretations of these audible feedback enable the virtual recreation of the environment. AUSION is compact, handheld, maneuverable, non-intrusive device. This offers a greater freedom of movement and helps detect overhanging obstacles at the chest, shoulder and head levels.

Tell us who is the target audience and how the accessible innovation will benefit them. Please specify the different target audiences groups and provide numbers and statistics of your current clients as well as what is the potential number of people that the innovation can impact and empower:

India has 5 Million people (about 18% of its disabled population) with severe visual impairment (Census 2011) and about 25 Million who have some form of visual disability (UN). Three million people in the “productive” age group between 10 years and 60 years have severe / total visual impairment. Unfortunately, a majority of the visually impaired are from the economically weaker sections of the society. Globally, about 50 million people are totally blind, as estimated by WHO.

If the people with low and partial vision are considered, the numbers go beyond 250 million globally! This would be the target audience who will benefit from AUSION.

Challenges: Visually impaired people, especially the ones with severe disability face multitude of problems and challenges. Listed below are a few such challenges:

  • Right to Education and Right to Employment
  • Productivity loss
  • Mobility issues and associated lack of independence and confidence
  • Inability to tackle physical obstacles
  • Inability to navigate indoors and outdoors
  • Dependence on others to satisfy their needs

Visually impaired people in the rural areas and women in particular face even greater challenges. If properly trained and equipped, they can perfectly lead normal lives.

The electronic mobility aid AUSION, will be of immense benefit to any visually impaired or people with Low Vision. It enables them to be independent and aids them in their day to day activities. It enables them to be self-reliant in unfamiliar places. It helps them to move about within any campuses like colleges, offices etc., enabling them to explore various vocational and employment opportunities, thereby enhancing their self-esteem.

Being a compact handheld device, it is maneuverable and can be taken around in any environment offering safety to the visually impaired while they move around. With this mobility aid, rehabilitation becomes simpler and far less stressful for people who lose their vision due to various conditions.

How is the accessible innovative solution different from current practices or ways of solving the problem?

Over the past couple of decades, the visually impaired have been using the long cane, guide dogs and guides as means for being mobile. In India, which has the largest number of people with visual disabilities in the world, there is a hesitation with the visually impaired to such aids because of social stigma and affordability issues. Though the long cane is widely made available, its use has been limited. Very often they resort to tagging along. People using the long cane face hazardous situations that they are not able to detect, because of limitations.

We have attempted to move the visually impaired people "away" from the cane and created AUSION - electronic mobility aid - incorporating technology to overcome the limitations of the cane. AUSION provides information through sound perceptible by the ear - the second most sensitive organ with us.

It is a unique concept to use the 2nd most sensitive organ (ear and its audio processing capability) in the body to provide spatial information through different audio frequencies to visually impaired. Our electronic mobility aid, AUSION, is a light weight, hand held device which can be used in-door and out-doors, familiar or unfamiliar environment with ease. It improves independent mobility, thereby enhancing self-confidence and productivity of the visually impaired.

How is the accessible innovative solution new, different or unique in terms of the technology or implementation?

AUSION – Innovative Electronic Mobility Aid for the Visually Impaired. Designed with the specific needs for the visually impaired. Unique concept of applying echolocation principle to detect obstacles and help avoid them.

AUSION being a mobility aid for the visually impaired, feedback cannot be provided through visual indications. Ear being the second most sensitive organ after the eyes and since the auditory sense of the visually impaired is high, it is highly effective to provide the feedback through audible sound. It is also important to note that providing an auditory feedback is faster.

AUSION is designed to provide unique tunes as feedback for all its operational settings. Distinct feedback mechanism through audio tones enabling perception of obstacles through the ear. Ergonomically designed, handheld, non-intrusive, maneuverable device. Simple and contrasting colour combination that mimics the traditional white cane, for ease of identification. Unique and distinctive product. As we are aware, no competing handheld mobility aid product for the visually impaired is available as of today.

AUSION is simple to use. The 4 keys have tactile markings for easy identification. Tactile marks in the battery compartment aids replacement of the battery by the visually impaired person independently. Extremely simple and stress free user settings and interface. Most operations through a single key. Care has been taken to avoid any confusions to visually impaired. Unique and distinguishable feedback with tunes for operations and tones for obstacle detection. Reliable and consistent operations. No false positives or false negatives.

No sharp edges and does not shatter when dropped. Provision to attach wrist band for enhanced safety. Aesthetic and durable. People will feel proud to carry around. Compact enough to fit into shirt / trouser pockets or handbags when not in use. Provides good grip with a finger guide. Optimised for use with both the hands. Dimensions are proportionate and fits snugly in the palm.

Quick learnability, intuitive and minimal need for training to start using the aid. Stress free. Informative website for accessing all information about AUSION. Highly power efficient and uses extremely low power avoiding frequent replacements of the battery. Reliable and expected to serve the user for many years.

Specifications:

  • Ergonomic, compact, lightweight, handheld unit
  • Selectable range 1 meter, 2 meter and 3 meter
  • Easy to use: Two Keys for Distance Range / User Feedback Mode selection
  • Unique tonal colors corresponding to object distances
  • Continuous and Discrete modes of audible feedback
  • Low cost of ownership (Ultra low power consumption)
  • Audible feedback through earphone
  • Weight and Size: L X W X H: 100 mm X 50 mm X 25 mm and weighs 95 gms
  • Battery: Standard 9V 6F22

How do you get the innovative solution to reach the target audience? Please elaborate on the your go to market strategy and which geographies do you currently work in and what are your future plans for marketing your innovation.

Mobility is the most important need for the visually impaired. It makes them independent, confident and aids their productivity and employability. Traditional mobility aids like the long cane have several limitations. Electronic Mobility Aids like AUSION in contrast, provide a much superior mobility experience for the visually impaired.

Corporates can consider providing AUSION Electronic Mobility Aids to the visually impaired students and to people with visual impairment who are getting into some form of employment, for their mobility needs.The distribution can be channelized as follows:

  • Through a well-known, global, registered and reliable NGO such as the Rotary that has a pan India presence and is already involved in various social activities. Rotary Bangalore North Charitable Trust can act as a nodal center that can work with other sister Rotary Trusts across India. It can identify visually impaired recipients, their training needs for using AUSION and also collect feedback in a periodic manner.
  • Directly through blind schools like Samarthanam Trust for the Disabled. These organizations can impart the necessary training and also distribute the devices to other schools in the vicinity. However the reach will be limited in this case.
  • Through national level organizations like National Association for the Blind (NAB) which has an all India presence at the district level.
  • Through the corporate’s own foundation for channelizing their CSR activities.
  • Encouraging individuals to donate AUSION to visually impaired people of their choice.
  • Enabling individual visually impaired people who have economic affordability to purchase their own device.

We, InnovationHub Technologies, will be very happy to facilitate connecting a Social organization involved in helping the Visually Impaired and the recipient of the devices (Visually Impaired People).

Geographies: Our current focus as a geography is India. Being a country with the largest number of visually impaired people in the globe, our aim is to ensure that a substantial number of visually impaired people in India have access to AUSION. We have created AUSION with the three goals of Simplicity,Usefulness and Addordability and is specifically designed for India and in India.

Being a universal product, AUSION can be used effectively by people all over the world. Since it uses tunes and tones as feedback mechanisms, there is no language barrier for its usage. We will be exploring the international market in the near future.

What is the potential impact of the innovative solution on the lives of the target audience? Please elaborate by providing statistics of the current impact and the potential impact.

The impact of AUSION on the lives of the visually impaired have been elaborated in the earlier sections. To summarize:

  • Right to Education and Right to Employment
  • Enhanced Productivity
  • Positive contribution to the country's economy
  • Enhanced Mobility, independence and confidence
  • Ability to tackle physical obstacles
  • Ability to navigate indoors and outdoors with ease
  • Faster rehabilitation

Stories of how the Innovation has touched lives.

A visually impaired girl student doing her post graduation at a prestigious institute of higher learning at Bangalore was introduced to AUSION through one of her professors. She depends on others to help her with her mobility needs. She never went through any mobility training nor intends to use the cane. She was excited when her institute provided her with AUSION and was keen to use it in her day to day life. She is gradually becoming less dependent on others and has found new and radically different use for AUSION. She uses the device to locate a glass on a table pretty quickly rather than searching the whole table. She identifies where a vessel is kept on a stove with AUSION.

A 50 year old industrialist who turned legally blind a decade back learnt about AUSION and acquired one for himself. Apart from mobility issues which he was managing with the help of his near ones, he was facing issues of being active and independent while he is out on a walk. He visits his factory on a daily basis and increasingly finds it difficult to avoid the materials kept there. He has learnt to use AUSION and is comfortably able to avoid lamp posts and poles while taking a brisk walk or avoid tripping over / getting injured due to the scattered obstacles at his factory.

Links to a few videos about the innovation: