Getting around at airports can get really complicated for blind and unaccompanied travelers: today, Carnegie Mellon University engineers have partnered with Pittsburgh International Airport to develop a system that helps blind people move from one location to another.
A “smart” trolley equipped with a video camera and sensors is able to perceive the surrounding environment, people and objects that could represent possible obstacles. Calculate the best walking routes and evaluate possible collisions by reporting them to the user and to those who come into contact with him.
"Once upon a time people paid more attention and caution if they crossed paths with a blind person," says Chieko Asakawa, (the name in Italian sounds like a mocking twist of fate) Professor at Carnegie Mellon and blind since the age of 14, who took part in the project.
"Today the conditions have changed, the attention rate has dropped significantly and people distracted by smartphones or other visual stimuli can easily bump into us."
The trolley-guide is combined with a special app to find waiting rooms, restaurants and other points of the airport: once the destination has been chosen, the trusty suitcase will take care of accompanying the user in safety.