Growing up in a small city known as The Cat City; Kuching, Sarawak under the endless care of our beloved grandmother, it was heart-breaking to know that she will lose her sight. Since her forties, our grandmother had high blood pressure which then lead to glaucoma in the later part of her life. Under those circumstances, the disease left her with a single field of vision and inevitably permanent blindness.

Ophthalmologists were unable to operate on her due to the high risk entailed. Thus, to prepare her to continue her life without sight, an orientation and mobility specialist came into the picture. As per the specialist’s advice, our family helped her to slowly cope and learn new skills that enable her to travel efficiently and effectively while being safe.

As Daniel and I were thirsty to learn more about visual impairment. We experienced first-hand in their shoes and got to know more about the visually impaired community in Sarawak. We found out that visually impaired face countless daily mobility and navigation challenges ranging from knocking into household furniture to falling into uncovered manhole or drains. Furthermore, existing white canes have limitations in detecting obstacles especially those that are above the knee level. On the other hand, guide dogs are expensive and pose acceptance challenges especially in our country (Malaysia)1.

Exisiting white canes cannot detect overhangs.
Exisiting white canes cannot detect overhangs.
Exisiting white canes cannot detect overhangs.

Traditional White Canes Limitations in Detecting Above Knee Level Obstacles

 

The Pain of Our Late Grandmother to Innovating the White Cane

We strongly believe that it is our mission to help those who are in need like the visually impaired community to better perceive their surrounding environment to be able to be mobile and do more. Thus, BAWA Cane was created to fill this gap.

BAWA Cane, a smart IoT cane, capable of connecting to mobile phones and wearable devices powered by big data analytics to provide insights and foresight of the surrounding environment that empowers every visually impaired to do more.

BAWA Cane early-stage prototype

BAWA Cane early-stage prototype

Sources:

1. Shocked over ‘No Guide Dogs Allowed’ sign, link

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