From: Brian Buhrow (
Date: Wed Jul 19 1995 - 07:49:48 PDT


Having just finished teaching summer school and shooing the last
of the remodeling contractors away several weeks ago, I
confronted the formidable task of cleanup and rearrangment. I
attacked the garage first. After a successful trash-pickers
convention, I felt like progress was being made. One of my
discoveries in the depths of the garage was a stack of unread
Popular Mechanics. I vowed to skim them while taking control of
my study back from chaos. The recent heat has helped to keep me
inside rummaging around the entropy ridden room. I found the
following news item in the December 1994 issue, and it triggered
a memory of a vague reference made by John Gardner about an
article in PM about navigation for blind folks which I have
included in its entirety below for those of you who missed it.
Maybe several of you ran across the award-winning device at MSI
during your visit to Chicago for the Convention. If so, what did
you think?

Popular Mechanics December 1994, Volume 171, No. 12, pp. 17-38.

"Handy Map for the Blind"

CHICAGO, IL - Two high-school students have parlayed
cruise-missile technology into a system to help blind people
navigate unfamiliar territory. The device works by translating
infrared reflections into a map pressed like Braille into the
user's hand. The design garnered top prize at a recent technical
exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry.

Built by Steven Daniels and Cuong Lai, the apparatus centers on a
vest studded with Micro Switch infrared sensors. These conect
via a ribbon cable to a unit strapped on the back of a hand.

Range-finding data from the sensors goes to a small circuit board
in the hand unit, which in turn sends signals to a matrix of
electromagnetic relays. The relays then activate a group of 20
pinlike probes that touch the back of the user's hand. They
spell out a pattern that maps obstacles standing in the user's

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Sun Dec 02 2012 - 01:30:03 PST