Assistive Technology: Sense Five

Sense Five is a smart white cane designed to keep visually impaired users safe by utilizing the sense of touch. This assistive technology concept and prototype is created by a German design studio called Werteleberfll. This device’s key feature is its surface-changing handle and the image-recognition sensor. This product uses an integrated image-recognition sensor to detect surroundings. Users not only will know if there are any obstacles but also real-time traffic data. All this information will be translated into different rhythms and intensities of the handle.

surface change demonstrated with the first prototype

Environment Detection & Haptic Feedback is the core feature of this device. This feature is an example of utility & desirability. The integrated ultrasonic sensor detects obstacles with 5 meter(16′ 4″) and designed for waist-high obstacles that cannot be seen by a conventional cane. This technology recognizes a fast-moving object such as cars and allows you to understand your overall surroundings better by using sense. The environment information is processed in real-time and sends to the user by surface changes to the handle. This device provided an opportunity for visually impaired people to have a boarder sense of their surroundings that allow them to perform or behave like those who can see.

Another feature of Sense Five is its intuitive control & visibility. As a reliable mobility aid, an explicit on and off­ switch is essential; users must be able to check the device status at any time in the most efficient way. The ergonomic handle includes a safe ‘on and off’ switch, and with integrated low energy LEDs enhance visibility for other road users. The designer also makes the change states easy and accessible to all users; users only need to push the switch up or down. Low energy LEDs switch on automatically in the dark and guarantee clear visibility for other road users.

From my point of view, this product contained both models. The cane itself is a medical model, and the technology used to improve the quality of life is a social model. The technology integrated provided a better environment for the visually impaired; they can “see” more. This technology also helps those to feel safe and more independent. My concern for this product is the price, especially if you compare it to the generic white cane. If this cane can be more compatible, that would be great, such as integrating a map system that helps the visually impaired navigate their destination easier.

Sense Five design concept