What problem does your design idea solve?
This product is a navigational aid for visually impaired persons. It helps the visually impaired to better understand their surroundings and navigate more safely within their environment.
What are the potential benefits?
Gives a more comprehensive view of local surroundings than the white-cane it replaces.
How is your idea novel or an improvement on what is currently available in the marketplace?
Using the sonic flashlight, after training, the user can “visualize” his or her surroundings. The plasticity of the human brain results in the creation of a mental model of the user's surroundings using the aural information contained in the reflected ultrasonic signal. See; http://www.tgdaily.com/general-sciences-features/56197-blind-people-can-echolocate-using-visual-center-of-brain
Where would this idea be applied?
Anywhere and everywhere.
What is the market potential?
Approximately 2 percent of the population is considered legally blind or visually impaired. Of this 2 percent, approximately 95 percent have residual vision. We estimate that 5 percent of the 2 percent will find this product beneficial. This amounts to approximately 375,000 in the USA.
How does your design work?
The product is similar to a normal flashlight, including the parabolic reflector. The batteries and electronics are housed in the body of the unit. A miniature ultrasonic transducer operating at ~100 KHZ is installed in place of the normal bulb or LED. Pulses are generated at a rate controlled by the user. Returning ultrasonic echos are received and converted into aural sound, delivered to the user by ear-buds. The user's brain translates the information in the aural signal into a model of the user's local environment, much as the brain of sighted users of flashlights translates the reflected light into a model of the user's environment. See: http://www.tgdaily.com/general-sciences-features/56197-blind-people-can-echolocate-using-visual-center-of-brain
How would your product be manufactured?
Conventional electronics manufacturing equipment and assembly technology can be used to manufacture the Ultra Sonic Flashlight.
How would the production cost compare with products already in the marketplace?
A directly comparable product is not available. The retail price should be about $100 per unit.
The best design ideas will:
Improve quality of life - visually impaired persons will have increased independence.
Automate tedious tasks - use of a "white-cane" will be avoided.
Prevent or reduce injuries - increased awareness of surroundings, leads to fewer accidents.
Improve public safety and security - NA
Save time and money - easier navigation leads to quicker navigation.
Offer alternative energy solutions - NA
Reduce consumption of natural resources - NA
Lead to other product improvements - NA
© 2011 James Shand