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Toyota's latest navigation tech isn't for cars

Project Blaid uses cameras and processing power to help the visually impaired navigate inside buildings, where traditional GPS assistance devices fall short.


Toyota is not content to stay in the automotive space. Its latest effort -- known as Project Blaid -- combines wearables with cameras to create a piece of equipment that could better help the visually impaired navigate the inner workings of buildings around the world.

Project Blaid relies on cameras to scope out a given room and, based on its algorithms, point out features like stairs and restrooms. The whole system is contained within a wearable device that drapes over a person's shoulders. It looks like a graduation stole, except unlike said stole, it's actually useful.

The project is still in the prototype phase at the moment, but Toyota hopes to expands its usability by incorporating better mapping and even facial-recognition technology. "We believe we have a role to play in addressing mobility challenges, including helping people with limited mobility do more," said Doug Moore, a manger in Toyota's robotics division. "We believe this project has the potential to enrich the lives of people who are blind and visually impaired."

The company is also calling on its employees to submit videos of landmarks such as exit signs, doors and elevators to improve its recognition algorithms. The more submissions the group receives, the better the final product will be.