Japan’s blind doctor creates new technology for the visually Impaired

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Chieko Asakawa NavCog
Photo Credits: Through the Eyes of Geek | Flickr

Chieko Asakawa, one of Japan’s greatest doctor and inventor, develops a new technology that aid visually impaired individuals. Her passion for advancing technology for the visually impaired started when Asakawa had a swimming pool accident when she was 14 which caused her blindness. She is now working with other companies to improve the area of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to help people live a normal life.

When she started working on developing artificial intelligence, she did not have any technology to assist her impairment. The hardships that she endured made her do more in improving technology for the blind.

Her understanding in computer science focused on blind people worked with IBM and earned a doctorate. Dr. Asakawa did not stop sharing her knowledge to the Japanese people who have visual impairments.

The Japanese doctor is behind the creation of Digital Braille Innovations and the world’s first ever web-to-speech browser giving access for the blind to use the internet.

Today, Dr. Asakawa and other leading companies and technologists are creating tools and devices with artificial intelligence. Her visual impairment makes it more likely to have the best equipment and innovative technology for people who are suffering from the loss of their eyesight.

Moreover, she and her team have already developed a smartphone app that is voice-controlled which helps the blind to navigate and move around indoor locations that are complicated and unfamiliar with them.

The app is called NavCog and is used in some sites in the United States and Tokyo. According to IBM, it will be soon out in public. The app is still in its pilot stage and is not yet available for everyone.

Dr. Asakawa and IBM’s next project will be a navigational lightweight robot that will also aid the visually impaired. The lightweight robot will be able to steer and navigate the user in complex terrains of an airport, and it will also provide direction and information on flight details including the delays, gate changes, and the like.

The robot uses artificial intelligence that is capable of detecting light and measuring objects in the distance. It will also be using an image-recognition camera to check on the surroundings.

One of her dreams is to travel alone without worrying about the how’s and where’s of going to places she is unfamiliar with. The robot will then be one of the world’s greatest inventions shortly. IBM and Dr. Asakawa are doing their best to finish the project in the year 2020.

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