School of Visual Arts - 2016
Role: Design, fabrication
What is beacon?
beacon is a 3d printed prototype that helps to increase the visibility of the blind in low light conditions, making walking in crowded cities safer.
A typical walk through Manhattan can be a real challenge for anyone. Sidewalks are crammed with tourists, often looking up at something; locals are usually in a hurry speed walking to somewhere, and to make things worse, many of us also have our heads buried in cell phones.
Imagine being blind and navigating through a city like this.
Every day, my classmate Young and I pass by a community for the visually impaired. We routinely noticed people accidentally bumping into blind pedestrians.
This is really concerning, and as designers, we started asking ourselves - what can we do about this? We started brainstorming possible solutions.
This is why we designed beacon.
How things started
beacon really began as a class project where we redesigned the typical blind cane. We added a water sensor that could identify puddles and slippery floor surfaces and LEDs to alert distracted pedestrians. After building a prototype we tested the device with the local blind community and received some really great feedback and reviews.
However, the device was expensive and overly complicated. So, we went back to the drawing board. We're now focusing on a simplified design that involves just the tip of the cane. So far we’ve made 2 prototypes.
Our latest design
Now, Young and I are working towards transforming this idea into a real product that is simple, easy to use, and helps to improve the lives of the visually impaired.
Our parameters for success are:
1. Universality - able to easily retrofit into most cane models.
2. Motion activated illumination.
3. Water detection (with audible alert).
4. Useful geometry for the tip enclosure.
5. Affordable - $30 or less.
As we move forward, we continue to explore how design can be leveraged as a tool for solving everyday problems through the meaningful and practical application of technology.