Blind Engineer Creates 'Smart Cane' That Uses Google Maps to Help Visually-Impaired People

A blind engineer invented a "smart cane" that helps blind people navigate the world using Google Maps.

Robin Zlotnick - Author

Sep. 10 2019, Updated 2:11 p.m. ET

There's a new electronic walking stick for visually-impaired people that is set to completely transform the way blind people navigate the world. The WeWalk smart cane uses Bluetooth technology and connects with Google Maps to make it so much easier for blind people to move through the world independently.

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Kursat Ceylan is the visually-impaired engineer behind the WeWalk smart cane. He's the CEO and co-founder of Young Guru Academy in Turkey, the nonprofit behind the smart cane. 

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"In these days we are talking about flying cars," Kursat told CNN, "but these people have been using just a plain stick." It's about time that the technology that has been standard for some time be used to help visually impaired people move around the world. 

Kursat, who has been blind since birth, had the idea to connect the walking stick that many blind people rely on to the internet. That simple idea would improve the amount of information blind people can take in about the world around them as they walk around. 

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"As a blind person, when I am at the Metro station I don't know which is my exit ... I don't know which bus is approaching ... [or] which stores are around me. That kind of information can be provided with the WeWalk," Kursat told CNN.

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While canes help blind people detect obstacles below their waist, WeWalk can detect obstacles above chest level using ultrasonic sensors and warns users of them using vibrations. It can also pair with your phone and is integrated with Voice Assistant and Google Maps. 

The smart cane has built in speakers that can inform whoever's using it of stores that are nearby or details about their surroundings that they might not be able to sense using just their cane. 

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According to the Good News Network, as the company gains traction, Kursat is hoping to add more innovations, such as partnering with ride-share apps and other transportation services. This will allow for an even more seamless experience for visually impaired people when they are out and about. 

Because the WeWalk is "smart," each new integration can bring new developments and new features, and all you'll have to do is a regular software update to access what's new. 

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The WeWalk seems like such a no-brainer, but it took until now for someone to actually put in the energy and time to create a product that will so easily transform so many lives.

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On the company's Facebook page, the comments reflect how people feel about WeWalk. "Pure independence," one person wrote. "Game changer!!!" wrote another. "You are all awesome," someone else wrote. "Our daughter is so excited about what her future holds because of folks like you!"

Right now, the WeWalk smart cane is being sold for $500 each, and you can purchase the extension, which attaches to any traditional white cane, on its website. In a CNN video about the WeWalk, product user Duygu Kayaman says, "To me, WeWalk represents the end of an era and the start of a new one."

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