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  B. Engineers Developing Assistive Technologies for the Blind

Narrator: This is Science Today. Engineers at the University of California, Santa Cruz are developing high-tech, assistive technologies for the blind. Roberto Manduchi, an assistant professor of computer engineering, developed the ‘virtual white cane – one of several prototype tools.

Manduchi: The virtual white cane is a device that eventually in its ultimate form will have the size of a flashlight that you can hold in your hand and point around a scene and the system will read distances. The idea is to try to have the same features that the real white cane has without having the hassle of a physical thing that bumps into people and objects.

Narrator: The technology is based on advances in computer vision that have emerged from research in robotics.

Manduchi: Technically, the way it works is with laser pointer, which is coupled with the little camera and a computer, which eventually can be manipulated and embedded and through a process called active triangulation, the system can read these distances in real time.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.