The KIEN I-RLTS is an innovative support for blind people autonomous mobility.
Known RTLS systems map the environment and locate a user within that environment, then provide guidance at front of a defined path.
KIEN innovation covers two aspects:
- Placement of UWB Tags in correspondance with "destinations" e.g. Safety exit, ATM machine, toilette, ticket distributor, elevator door or plate, public park benches, bus stops, officies, etc. and availability for the blind person of a dual antenna UWB Interrogator. The two antennas are located at the end of two extensible supports that can be placed on the white-cane and are linked to a cell phone App.
- UWB distance measurement devices are know to have an accuracy of +/- 10cm and this render impossible to determine the angle of arrival of the signals with sufficient accuracy when using a small distance between antennas. KIEN works using transition across the boundary of the errors. When time differences differ by less than the measurement error, we are within the "beam," when difference is greater than the measurement error it means that we are "out-of-the-beam."
Swinging the white-cane. the blind person crosses two limits: one right and one left; KIEN emits a beep at any transition exactly like hitting a lateral wall with the cane. This creates a virtual path between the blind and the destination, similar for a normal-seeing person looking at the sign of a COFFEE SHOP.
The system has been tested and approved by several blind persons and Institutes for visually impaired people. A representative video is available on youtube.
Prototypes have been used to guide blind persons along corridors in an hotel, as well as to reach the solar bed on a beach where Loges are impossible to be used.
The cost ranges between 20 and 200 € per location or person, does not require a central unit, does not require mapping the space and does not need reconfiguration when destinations are moved like statues in a museum or vendors in a market. Again it is possible to use standard codes for items like toilettes, exit door, bank door, elevators, etc.
KIEN can also identify forbidden areas like floor level swimming pools that are along the direct path to destination. KIEN maintains the correct orientation even after circumventing an obstacle (see video).
The blind is capable to self protect while walking using the cane but needs a "direction" to walk along independently by the environment and is much more flexible that the Loges and much much cheaper.
KIEN is not business in itself, it is a cost for the public administration and provides a return in terms of freedom and autonomy for blind people. That's why it is not yet deployed: we need funds for a demo installation to be payed by myself and that's why I'm presenting it here.