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Kinect and Arduino Combine to Help the Blind

Two of the most popular toys amongst DIY enthusiasts right now are the Arduino and the Microsoft Kinect. So what happens when you combine them? Probably the most impressive hack of either device we've ever seen.

Created by Michael Zöllner and Stephan Huber from the University of Konstanz, NAVI (or Navigational Aids for the Visually Impaired) allows the blind to easily navigate an environment and avoid obstacles with tactile feedback via a vibrating belt, and audio cues delivered over a Bluetooth headset. The Kinect is mounted on a helmet and feeds video and depth data to a laptop worn on the back. The laptop then triggers vibrations in the Arduino-controlled belt to alert the wearer to nearby obstacles, and announces directions and the location of obstructions over the Bluetooth ear-piece. The system can also read QR signs to alert the wearer of their location.

What makes this setup so much more impressive than other Kinect hacks is not just the creativity and technical skill that went into its creation, but the fact that it's practically practical. Outside of bulky, wearable desk used to lug around the laptop, that is.

Tags: arduino, DIY, kinect, microsoft kinect, MicrosoftKinect, NAVI, Navigational Aids for the Visually Impaired, NavigationalAidsForTheVisuallyImpaired, top, wearables