Students and fellows at IIT-Delhi have developed a ‘smart’ cane that will help the blind navigate their way in spite of all obstacles that hamper their movement.

It only costs Rs 3,000, which is about 25 times less than the market price of similar products that are currently available.

The smart cane helps the visually impaired detect above-the-knee obstructions from a distance of 3 metres. It uses ultrasonic technology of the radars, which identify objects and obstacles around the person. Due to this technology, it can also detect objects that are above knee height, which a normal cane cannot do.

“This has huge implications not only for their safety but also for their dignity. The feeling of dependence often makes people feel vulnerable about unknown surroundings,” IIT’s Assistech co-founder Rohan Paul told PTI.

He said the trials found that SmartCane checks the visually impaired from banging into protrusions and has helped them walk with security and confidence.

“Field test reports show that users moved independently and safely with self-confidence using SmartCane,” he added.

More than 300 people affected by blindness were involved in the development over the last eight years. Currently there are 150 users of Smart Cane for blind across the country.

Assistech is IIT Delhi’s Lab which works on developing affordable assistive technology solutions for the visually impaired. It developed the technology for the cane. Joint development was undertaken along with Phoenix Medical Systems, Chennai and Saksham Charitable Trust, Delhi to make this product a reality.

Though similar products are available globally, they are expensive making it difficult for people to buy them.

According to the World Health Organisation, there are 37 million persons with blindness worldwide, of which about 90 per cent live in developing countries, including India.

India has 12 million people affected by blindness, the largest for any country in the world (2011 census data).