ENVIRONMENT SENSING - A NEW APPROACH TO THE DESIGN OF AN ELECTRONIC AID FOR THE BLIND
AIR FORCE CAMBRIDGE RESEARCH LABS HANSCOM AFB MA
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Environment sensing is defined as the collecting of sufficient information in useable form concerning ones environment to permit safe mobility. Primary emphasis is placed upon the design of a device suitable for use by the blind. Several other important applications await its completion. It is assumed that environment sensing should be accomplished with passive devices, that is, no transmitters or special light sources should be needed, and that the environment sensing device should produce no degradation of the sense of hearing. Two devices are described one accepts light approaching over a very small solid angle the other accepts light over a reasonably large but adjust able solid angle. The geometrical problems associated with the use of these sensors are discussed. Environment sensing is described in terms of eleven simple problems suitable for a theoretical mechanical man machine to solve. A blind human being should be able to solve at least these eleven problems if provided with a suitable transducer for relaying the information to his brain. A transducer using the sense of touch is suggested as being most desirable. Both the sensing device and the transducer appear to be physically realizable with solid-state electronic circuitry.