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42: A smart cane created for & by the visually impaired community with Jean Marc from WeWALK

John-Marc - WeWalk - 15MWTD
John Marc is the Head of R&D at WeWALK, a startup with the ultimate vision to be a platform that unites the visually impaired community and improves societal integration through mobility. It has created a smart cane and a companion app to bring tech advancements to the standard white cane. Learn about all the features, their design and development processes, their collaborations with companies such as Microsoft, the assistive tech market, and more.

What you will learn in this episode:

What is WeWALK?

WeWALK is an intelligent cane that is intended to enhance and add value to a long white cane. WeWALK preserved everything that makes the white cane excellent but improved it by replacing the handle and adding value-added tech features like an ultrasonic sensor for upper body obstacle detection (ex. low hanging tree branches). WeWALK has also developed a smartphone application, which can be used to get comprehensive navigation and more.

What were the difficulties John Marc faced with the standard white cane as a visually impaired individual?

To move around with a conventional white cane, users need six or seven specific applications – one for public transportation, one for strolling, and so on, which can be disorienting. Sometimes, you find yourself colliding with boxes or accidentally being caught with things at the bottom that the cane fails to detect.

WeWALK has taken the most significant parts of previous apps and jammed them into one interface to make it more accessible. As a result, high-contrast text, larger font sizes, specific instructions, and complete voiceover compatibility are all available options.

How difficult was it to create the features, and what did the user research tell you?

It’s challenging to find a one-size-fits-all solution. Instead, you must engage with the community. WeWALK has been engaging and interacting with users since the device’s conception. Every customer who purchases one goes through an induction process. The user team contacts these consumers to find out what’s working for them and what’s not. That feedback cycle continuously loops back to their developers and the entire team to make improvements.

What is WeWALK looking to achieve in development & what is the market size for assistive tech?

The global market for assistive technology is valued at more than $17.5 billion. It’s a market that keeps expanding. Visual impairment is often a result of an ageing population, a natural result of population expansion, so you get a 16 percent market growth every year. As a result, there is a definite demand.

Vision impairment isn’t going to go away on its own. WeWALK aims to develop the appropriate tools for society, such as safety and mission-critical tools, to assist those with visual impairments in leading more satisfying lives. Day by day, WeWALK seeks to meet the needs of this industry, be it with their navigation system, multimodal system, exploration system, or even their health character.

Links:

Website: https://wewalk.io/
Connect with Vinay Shankar on LinkedIn
Once Daily: https://www.oncedaily.co/ai-in-healthcare-how-to-use-retinal-images-to-prevent-vision-loss/

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