NYP invents wayfinding e-Guide Dog
Published on 05 May 2021
Solution meant to help more persons with visual impairment travel independently; technology also now deployed on smart canes
SINGAPORE, 05 May 2021 – NYP’s staff and students have developed an e-Guide Dog to help more persons with visual impairment travel safely. Beyond detecting obstacles and navigating around them, this robotic e-Guide Dog can also detect changes in traffic light signals.
2. The e-Guide Dog project was highlighted by Dr Maliki Osman, Second Minister for Education, during his speech at the NYP Graduation Ceremony for the Diplomas in Architecture, Digital Game Art & Design, and Game Development & Technology this morning. Dr Maliki was the Guest-of-Honour at the ceremony, where nine NYP top graduates were also presented as Distinguished Award winners. Over 5,800 students are graduating from NYP’s diplomas, specialist diplomas and advanced diplomas across various Graduation Ceremonies to be held from 3 to 11 May 2021.
3. Led by Dr Kong Wai Ming, Lead Specialist of the Biomedical Engineering & Materials Group at the Polytechnic’s School of Engineering, the e-Guide Dog helps users with visual impairment travel to their destination independently, through pre-programmed routes. It is paired with an app that gives voice navigation and alerts such as the distance to the next landmark.
The e-Guide Dog has three key functions:
- Navigation: It is able to record and replay travelling paths up to an accuracy of 1m. Equipped with a built-in digital compass, it records path using data provided from encoders on the e-Guide Dog’s wheels, which monitor wheel revolutions and steering angles to provide accurate locational guidance.
- Obstacle Detection: Equipped with laser scanners, the e-Guide Dog detects obstacles in the way, and intelligently navigates its user around them.
- Traffic Light Signal Detection: Equipped with Artificial Intelligence, the e-Guide Dog can identify changes in the light signal from red to green and alert the user on when to cross the road. This is a function that regular guide dogs are unable to perform as canines are colour blind.
4. The team worked with Guide Dogs Singapore and its volunteers with visual impairment to test the system. “The e-Guide Dog would serve as a useful mobility aid for persons with visual impairment to guide them on pre-set routes, and to bring them to their location with ease,” said Vanessa Loh, General Manager, Guide Dogs Singapore Ltd.
5. Dallon Au, a current Year 3 Diploma in Infocomm & Security student from NYP’s School of Information Technology, has also been actively trialling the technology with the team. Born with visual impairment, Dallon relies on a white cane to travel around: “When they approached me to give this a go, I was excited as regular guide dogs can be costly and may not be readily suitable for each one of us. The e-Guide Dog has been helpful because it pre-emptively detects obstacles that may suddenly appear, which we could have otherwise missed with our canes! I’d like to see it become a bit more portable for the future.”
6. In response, the development team recently ported the technology of the e-Guide Dog onto canes. Fitted with sensors and encoders on wheels to provide wayfinding instructions, the smart cane can help users to walk pre-determined routes. This is limited to an indoor environment at the moment. Six graduating School of Engineering students developed the smart cane prototypes for the National Museum of Singapore’s pilot accessibility experience for visitors with visual impairment at the Home, Truly exhibition, which opened last December.
7. “The e-Guide Dog project allows NYP students to apply their skills and knowledge to solve real world problems. This ability to think critically and problem solve ensures that they will always be ready for the future workplace. The team will continue to improve the wayfinding solution with industry partners and even augment the technology onto other tools and devices, before looking at commercialising the innovation to support persons with visual impairment,” shared Principal & CEO of Nanyang Polytechnic, Ms Jeanne Liew.