AI suitcase for the blind

Published: Monday, December 17, 2018

TOKYO: It won’t be long and the visually impaired can independently travel at airports with the development of the “AI suitcase.”

This AI-powered lightweight suitcase for the blind developed by IBM is equipped with image-recognition camera to detect surroundings and LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging to measure distances to objects), reported the BBC.

It’s the brain-child of Dr. Chieko Asakawa who at age 14 lost her vision after damaging her optic nerve in a swimming pool accident. Since then, the Japanese computer scientist has devoted her time to help transform the lives of other visually impaired people across the world through her inventions and innovations at IBM Japan where she works as a researcher, mainly developing software programs for the visually impaired computer users.

Her condition didn’t deter Dr. Asakawa from going to the university. She studied English literature and a computer science course for the blind before earning her Ph.D. in Engineering at the University of Tokyo. She is credited for creating the early digital Braille innovations and creating the world’s first practical web-to-speech browser.
She also developed NavCog, a voice-controlled smartphone app that helps blind people navigate complicated indoor locations. The app is currently available in Tokyo and the US but IBM Intends to make it public globally later on.