Guide dogs are very good boys and girls and are universally seen as a great solution to support mobility for people who are blind. Problem is: guide dogs are not a scalable solution for a growing population of individuals with visual disabilities.
Right now, there are more than 290 million people living with vision impairment and more than 43 million of them are blind. Over the next 30 years, those numbers are expected to grow significantly, according to estimates, leading to 470 million people with vision impairment and 60 million people who are blind by 2050. While there are many innovative solutions for daily activities like reading, communication and using smart devices, there are just two solutions for mobility: guide dogs and canes.
Research startup .lumen was founded in 2020 with the mission of empowering the blind through inclusive innovation. Their team of more than 40 engineers, professors, disability experts, designers and scientists are using the latest autonomous driving, AI and robotics techniques to improve mobility for people who are blind. Their breakthrough idea is a wearable solution – a headset or “glasses” – that mimics the benefits of a guide dog without the drawbacks that prevent the dogs from being a scalable solution.
Here’s how it works.
Using autonomous driving and robotics technologies, the .lumen glasses understand familiar or new environments, map them in 3D and put the user in context, compute desired paths using environmental context and transmit information to the user through haptic and auditory impulses. If you ask a guide dog to take you to the door, it would guide you buy pulling your hand. The .lumen patented haptics interface and glasses would “pull your head.”
Social impact startup and 3DEXPERIENCE Lab member
The .lumen system is part of a new wave of accessibility-focused tech innovations meant to improve the lives of people who are blind. A social impact startup, .lumen’s belief that better mobility and accessibly lead to better education, employment and social lives.
The mission is personal for founder Cornel Amariei, a Romanian inventor, speaker and entrepreneur who grew up with parents and a sister who had disabilities limiting their mobility. His early experiences showed Amariei how important assistive technology can be.
Over its first few years, Amariei’s mission transformed into a startup that brought together more than 40 engineers, professors, disability experts, designers and scientists. .lumen has used SOLIDWORKS as its primary tool for design and simulation and the 3DEXPERIENCE platform on Cloud to facilitate a collaborative approach as the company progresses toward production of its glasses.
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