Saturday, August 1, 2020

Student creates a robotic guide dog for visually impaired

This article is by

Share this article

The prototype of handheld robotic guide dog | Source: Anthony Camu via Loughborough University

Anthony Camu, a final year Industrial Design and Technology student at Loughborough University is making headlines with his latest creation of a handheld robotic guide dog. This will be a great help to those people with visual impairment who might find it difficult to accommodate an actual guide dog in their homes.

The robot is named after the Titan goddess of light, ‘Theia’ and is shaped like a virtual gaming controller, which enthused Anthony to create this masterpiece in the first place. Theia listens to the user’s voice to lead them to their desired locations.

If the user has to go to some address (for eg. House number 4, 56th Street, Greenville Residency), they have to say ‘Hey Theia take me to House number 4, 56th Street, Greenville Residency*’. It will then process the actual data available online, like traffic density, and program the most secure route for the user to follow, quite similar to how GPS or satellite navigation works in our cars.

All the information is then communicated to the user via a machine built inside it, called a control moment gyroscope which uses the mechanism of ‘forced feedback’. These are used in spacecraft and their main function is to help in orientation purposes of the spacecraft, or in controlling the ‘spacecraft attitude’ using electric power.

This tiny built-in gyroscope physically moves the user’s hand in the direction they are supposed to go, thus giving them a feeling of being led by an actual guide dog. “The main intention was never to replace guide dogs, but instead to provide an alternative means of giving enhanced mobility options to visually impaired people” says Anthony Camu.

According to Mr. Camu, Theia will also be helpful in confronting challenging interactions like elevators or shops. While crossing a busy street, it will tend to ‘push back’ the users, cautioning them to be more sentient about their current surroundings. Moreover, Theia is quite pocket-friendly, costing about one-tenth the price of a real guide dog.

This tool will also contribute in imparting a sense of belonging and reduce the constant mental hassle and anxiety faced by the visually impaired population of the world. Since they are unable to assess their surroundings, it limits their outdoor movement. This will help them move in the outdoors more often and reduce stress while navigating the traffic on the road.

Anthony has created and experimented with many prototypes of Theia and some work is still needed to correct a few issues before the final launch his product in the market

However, he concluded that Theia has a promising future and it requires just a little more testing and research.“I know this is a grand vision, but I hope people can see the positive effects Theia could have on the blind community” he states.

*This address is fictional. Any similarity is purely coincidental.

Support us to bring the world closer

To keep our content accessible we don't charge anything from our readers and rely on donations to continue working. Your support is critical in keeping Global Views 360 independent and helps us to present a well-rounded world view on different international issues for you. Every contribution, however big or small, is valuable for us to keep on delivering in future as well.

Support Us

Share this article

Read More

October 23, 2020 3:57 PM

Male gaze, their female guardians and sports-wear

In Helen Cixous’ essay, ‘The Laugh of Medusa’, she urges women to redefine what their body means to them, not just physically but also socially, emotionally and politically. This could happen by re-writing about your body in a way you deem  fit, the expression you identify with and separating it from how your body has been written about by men. The expression could be how you view your body separate from the patriarchal lense.

It is no secret that a woman’s body is subject to critique. While clothing for men is just a tool to cover themselves as per the surrounding environment, clothing for women isa social and political narrative that dictates their life or as we affectionately call it ‘culturally appropriate’.

The clothing style could vary. It could be a woman covered head to toe in a Burqa, it could be a woman who decides to wear sports-wear in a park or it could be jeans and a top. Everything is critically evaluated by men and by women who work towards protecting the male gaze.

The male gaze is a heterosexual way of looking at female bodies that sexualises these bodies into an object. It is a gaze that runs on the self-affirmative notion that the bodies of women, and what they do with it, is directly linked to how they  appear in front of a man.

In a recent incident in Bangalore, India, popular Indian actress Samyuktha Hegde was abused and threatened by senior political leader of the congress party, Kavitha Reddy,  for wearing sports-wear, in Bangalore’s Agara Lake park. She was exercising with her friend.

Kavitha Reddy initially claimed she was in indecent attire and went onto morally police and then later abused the actress and her friend.  A supposedly progressive political leader gets uncomfortable by what women are wearing. It breaks into an argument and a fight where the politician is supported by five to six men. Later on, the police appear to be appeasing the politician instead of the women who were harassed. Although she did apologise, her apology came after her video went viral, and as a protection for her own political reputation.

To look at Samyuktha Hegde’s clothing as a threat is to view her clothing as an act of obscenity therefore bullying her identity and sense of agency and reducing her to sexual object, who, by putting her in public, apparently gives the men present a right to look at her? Nevermind that she was there to workout like everyone else, her actions were confused as to how men look at her. In the video posted by the actress, the politician is surrounded by men who are championing her on. The politician choses to side with the patriarchal figures in shaming these women. Asking to protect from the male gaze is a far stretch but punishing women for the male gaze is where we should draw a line.

What roles does Kavitha Reddy play? She is the guardian of the male gaze. We find her in our mothers, in our grandmothers, in aunties and sometimes our friends. She understands a woman’s body as an object that is there to be looked at by men. She gets angry at women for wearing certain kinds of clothing but she is not angry at men for looking. The agency in this case always belongs to men.

When Cixous asks women to re-define their identity, she urges us to strangle the moral police that comes alive in such instances. It is the moral police that shames women for wearing clothes that don’t flatter their bodies or clothes that do flatter them. She urges us to reflect upon the source of such vigilance. Do we shame other women because we believe in what we are saying or our identity is partially (or  wholly) shaped by the male gaze?

Whether we chose to wear a burqa, or a dress, or variations of the new type clothing produced everyday, the crux of the matter is that it should not worry anyone apart from the one wearing it. The identity of a woman, sexual or otherwise, has to be redefined to be separated from the men and their gaze. We have to draw a line otherwise people in power will continue to abuse their power and preserve patriarchy and male gaze.

Read More