Toyota is currently in the process of developing a wearable device for the blind and visually impaired, reflecting the marque’s commitment to enhance people’s lives by progressing the freedom of mobility for all.

Project BLAID aims to help blind and visually impaired people to go beyond their current limitations, able to do more with greater freedom, independence and most importantly, confidence.

Doug Moore, Manager of Partner Robotics, Toyota, said: ‘Toyota is more than just the great cars and trucks we build; we believe we have a role to play in addressing mobility challenges, including helping people with limited mobility do more. We believe this project has the potential to enrich the lives of people who are blind and visually impaired.’

Although canes, dogs and basic GPS devices already provide users with knowledge of their surroundings, the device Toyota is creating will be worn around the shoulders and will help to fill the gaps left between these already in-use implements, helping the visually impaired and blind to navigate around indoor spaces more easily by identifying everyday features - these could be anything from an escalator in a shopping centre to a sink in a bathroom.

Cameras integrated into the device will detect the user’s surroundings, using speakers and vibration monitors to communicate information. Toyota plans to allow users to be able to interact with the device too, through voice recognition and buttons, with mapping, object identification and facial recognition technologies hoping to be added in the future.

A company-wide employee engagement campaign is being launched within Toyota as part of Project BLAID, with team members able to submit videos identifying common indoor landmarks. Project BLAID developers will use these videos to ‘teach’ the device to recognise the filmed landmarks.

‘Project BLAID is one example of how Toyota is leading the way to the future of mobility, when getting around will be about more than just cars. We want to extend the freedom of mobility for all, no matter their circumstance, location or ability.’ said Simon Nagata, Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer, Toyota Motor North America.