(no subject)

From: Emerson.Foulke@homer.louisville.edu
Date: Tue Oct 10 1995 - 08:32:32 PDT

The electronic guide dog proposed by Ms. Soldo is a concept that
is sure to arouse interest every time it comes up. If one could
be made that really worked, and that was affordable, I don't
doubt that it would be received enthusiastically, but there are
problems. When I say that it should really work, I mean that it
should be significantly better than the cane in the hand of a
skilled traveler. The user of the E-DOG should be able to travel
comfortably and safely in unfamiliar situations. The task of
interpreting and responding to E-DOG's signals should not
monopolize the pedestrian's attention. When I say affordable, I
mean that even if a $25,000 E-DOG works well, very few blind
people will ever have one. On the other hand, if one had to
scrape up one or two or even three thousand dollars to get E-DOG,
that could probably be managed by most blind pedestrians.

Would E-DOG have an onboard electronic compass? If so, how much
would this compass be disturbed in urban environments with large
buildings that have a lot of steel in their construction?

How good would E-DOG be at detecting steps down? All of the
ETA's that have been built so far have been either very poor at
detecting steps down, or no good at all. One of the most
important sources of information needed by the blind pedestrian
is the surface under foot, and existing ETA's typically provide
very little information about that surface, or no information at

As already pointed out, if E-DOG needs wheels to be mobile, steps
and irregular surfaces will present a problem. How heavy will E-
DOG be? If it has a handle like the handle on a suitcase, will
that handle be grasped by the hand that is also supposed to be
sensing what E-DOG has to say?

The sighted pedestrian can travel safely and comfortably because
of the large volume of space that can be observed in considerable
detail from his or her present position. The volume of space
that can be directly observed by the blind pedestrian is very
much smaller, and this presents serious problems that E-DOG will
have to know how to solve. The blind pedestrian may be pleased
to learn by a signal from a satellite that he or she is at the
corner of Fourth and Main, but what he or she really needs to
know is the characteristics of the surface, and the disposition
of both stationary and moving objects in near space.

As I said earlier, E-DOG is a challenging concept, but the
challenge has defeated others, and the reason has been, in part,
that the problem of traveling by walking, safely and comfortably
and without visual information, has not been understood well
enough by the person who undertook the challenge. I don't
pretend to have this understanding, but I am sure it is needed.
I will say that if E-DOG ever becomes a reality, I will happily
sign up for the "Pick of the Litter", that is, if I can afford

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