Ford has created innovative new technology for the visually impaired designed to help them enjoy the view out of a car window.
Developed by Ford's Italian agency GTB Roma, the prototype technology transforms the surface of a car window into a tactile display. An integrated camera takes a photograph of the view and converts it into a greyscale image, which is then reproduced across the glass window by LEDs. The device causes vibrations of 255 different intensities at the point of touch so that visually impaired people can "decode" the image via touch. At the same time, a vocal assistant connected to the Ford car's audio system helps contextualize the image with a description.
"When the idea was at its first stage, we looked for suppliers all around the world to understand what was the best way to make it come to life," explains Federico Russo, executive creative director of GTB Rome, in a statement. "During the last Maker Fair held in Rome we met Aedo Project, an Italian start-up specialized in devices for visually impaired people. The haptic interface implemented on some of their projects has opened up an all new world for us, allowing us to think like blind people would do. As the prototype started taking shape, we realized we were giving birth to a complete new language that would give visually impaired people a new chance to visualize and experience travelling like never before."
Russo adds that while the technology is designed to use in a car, it could be implemented in schools and institutions for blind people in multiple ways.
Ford confirms the device is just a protoype at the moment, with no defined production plans.