According to Forbes, the Internet of Things (IoT) market will be worth $520 billion by 2021. Notably, that’s more than double the $235 million the sector was worth in 2017. Engineers and designers the world over are developing innovations that will make IoT one of the 21st century’s biggest industries.
For example, Turkish nonprofit Young Guru Academy (YGA) has developed an ingenious smart device called the WeWalk. The IoT-enabled cane isn't just a thoughtful reinvention of a ubiquitous tool. It’s also something that can make the world a safer place for millions of people.
Necessity is the Mother of Invention
Kursat Ceylan, YGA’s blind CEO and cofounder, invented the WeWalk to address a problem faced by himself and 217 million other people living with moderate to severe visual impairment. Despite the efforts of urban planners, Ceylan told CNN no city is completely friendly to disabled individuals. While audio cues at crosswalks are helpful, things like personal navigation and traveling complicated routes can be challenging.
WeWalk addresses both of those problems with a pair of innovative features. The smart cane allows blind and visually impaired people to venture outside with confidence thanks to a built-in ultrasonic sensor. When it detects an object in the path of the user up to five feet away, it sends out a directional warning via vibration.
On its own, WeWalk’s brilliantly simple personal collision detection system would be a life-changing medical aid. However, YGA went one step further by giving their smart cane mobile app integration.
Evolution through Integration
WeWalk features Bluetooth 4.2, so it can sync with supported models of Android and Apple smartphones. Moreover, the device can also integrate with Google Maps, Voice Assistant, and Amazon Alexa.
However, users don’t need to hold their smartphones up to their ears to receive step by step directors to their destinations. The smart cane has a speaker that tells individuals where they are and where they need to go. Consequently, WeWalk doesn’t just give disabled people help; it provides users with a remarkable level of independence.
With its app interactions enabled, the smart cane acts as a multifaceted IoT voice guide. The device empowers visually impaired users to go to work, shop, and visit friends by themselves.
Furthermore, though YGA is a nonprofit organization, it works somewhat like a startup. That is to say, its leadership isn’t content with their products current level of functionality. Instead, Ceylan and his team are hard at work making their app interoperable with popular apps like the leading ride-hailing services.
It’s also worth noting that WeWalk is surprisingly affordable. Consumers can order the breakthrough IoT device for $499.99. For perspective, that’s less than the cost of the smartphone in the United States. It’s also less than half of what the average American spends on Starbucks every year. Moreover, as IoT becomes more advanced and cost-effective, the WeWalk will likely experience price drops as time goes by.
That said, given YGA’s engineering innovation offers users personal autonomy, it’d be a bargain at twice the price.
Mario McKellop is a Staff Writer for The Burn-In. In addition to his love for all things tech, he loves a good meme, a trending story with plenty of irony, and all things energy drink related. Mario has written for Bank of America, CBS, Chase Financial, and Time Warner Communications (to name a few). You can find his tech stories at www.theburnin.com.