With its new Feel the View project, Ford is looking to use haptic technology to enable partially-sighted passengers to feel their environment. Cutting-edge technology installed on the windows of cars will enable partially-sighted people to literally touch the scenery around them during their journey.
Along the same lines as the RogerVoice system which helps the deaf and the hard-of-hearing to use the telephone, Ford’s Feel the View project enables the partially-sighted to visualise scenery by means of another sensory dimension – haptic technology. The US automotive giant has published a demonstration video on its website of a concept car fitted with a prototype developed in collaboration with Aedo, an Italian specialist in haptic solutions for the partially-sighted, according to French website Tom Travel.
Haptic technology – touching to aid sight
Ford’s haptic-technology-based system is made up of an in-built camera linked to a tactile covering on the inside of the vehicle’s windows, enabling the partially-sighted passenger, at the touch of a button, to photograph the surrounding scenery. The shot is then automatically converted into an ultra-contrasted monochrome image using Aedo’s technology.
The different levels of contrast (of which Feel the View is capable of distinguishing up to 225) are then translated into vibrations of variable intensity around the car windows, meaning that partially-sighted passengers can touch the window and have a tactile impression of the contours, reliefs and textures of their surroundings.
Whole host of possible applications
The Ford / Aedo haptic technology could act as an intermediary for partially-sighted people in various domains, particularly tourism. It could be used from the planning stage of a trip – in the same way that future travellers look at photos of a hotel room before booking, partially-sighted tourists could use a haptic equivalent.
The Feel the View system could be of particular use for taxis and chauffeur-driven cars, enabling partially-sighted passengers to make the most of their journey. Ford has also announced that a voice assistant using artificial intelligence could be added in and respond to the zones that are touched by the passenger. The constructor has not provided any further details on the Feel the View project, but the haptic technology shown in the video is already very much a reality, with numerous potential applications.
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