Department of Electrical Engineering Professor
Ren C. Luo won the National Innovation Award
With Navigation System for the Visually Impaired
The Institute for Biotechnology and Medicine Industry was chaired by NTU's former President Dr. Wei-Jao Chen. On May 17th, the Institute held the 7th National Innovation Award presentation ceremony. Dr. Ren C. Luo, a professor from The Department of Electrical Engineering, won the much coveted award with his "smart high efficiency cane for the visually impaired" and received wide public attention.
Mr. Vincent Siew, Vice President of the Republic of China, attended the presentation ceremony and conferred prizes on the award winning agencies. He also extended his congratulations to the winners and affirmed their contribution to the research and development of biotechnologies. Mr. Den-Yih Wu, the premier of the Republic of China, also pointed out that Taiwan possessed outstanding development environments , including excellent academic research, world-leading ICT industry and a successful health insurance plan, which, coupled with superb human resources and a strong national consensus to value health and life, allowed the government to devote its full strength to promote the development of bio-medical technologies in the future.
GuiLink is led by Professor Ren C. Luo of the Department of Electrical Engineering, whose intelligent robotics and automation lab applied the technologies of GPS, voice interactive navigation software and electronic compass on an intelligent cell phone to develop a "smart high efficiency cane for the visually impaired." Under the guidance of this cane, the visually impaired people could walk easily and accurately to his destination without restraint. Compared with the white cane invented in 1921, this new navigation system is much more convenient, and the visually impaired people will no longer be confined to walk to the places that "they had been to" in the past.
The invention of GuiLink is expected to greatly enhance the convenience and sense of security for about 78,00 visually impaired people when they move about. This technology is known for its technical segmentation, its unified function, its comprehensive features and its being close to market demands. Thus, the invention of GuiLink received affirmation by the National Innovation Awards.
Dr. Ren C. Luo pointed out that, the "white cane" currently used by blind people, has never been improved since its invention in 1921. In addition, although the so called "smart phones" have undergone many high tech evolutions, they are of little use to the visually impaired people since the visually impaired cannot see the touch screen of the smart phones. In order to let the visually impaired people enjoy the convenience brought about by new technology, his graduate students research team spent half a year to develop a cane that has a built in three dimensional compass system, and integrated the GPS system and voice navigation functions of a smart phone, so that the visually impaired could build a reliable map, and walk to places that they are either familiar or unfamiliar with.
The general voice navigation system in use today will tell the blind people to "turn left when you reach six hundred meters upfront." But, for blind people who cannot see, they can only tell how far is six hundred meters and which side is left by their psychological power of differentiation. With the invention of the "smart high efficiency cane," in addition to a voice reminder, the cane will also automatically detect the right direction, and tell the visually impaired to walk continually towards it by vibrating. Besides assisting the visually impaired, the smart cane can also be used in the accessory market for the blinds, in elderly care, and in the automotive head display market. The GPS system built in the cane can also let the general public know where their elders are so they won't have to worry about their elders getting lost.
At present this new technology has applied patents in Taiwan, the U.S. and China.