Independence for the Visually Impaired
270 million visually impaired people worldwide walk with a risk of hitting obstacles, such as electric scooters, bicycles, or tree branches. And this is also true for hemi-spatial neglect patients and wheelchair users. What if this group of people could walk with their mind free, knowing where potential obstacles were? biped uses autonomous driving technology to make this real!
biped is an all-in-one mobility aid for people with visual impairment, spatial neglect or hearing loss and for wheelchair users. It’s a harness worn on the shoulders, using self-driving technology from Honda Research Institute to help avoid obstacles with short sound warnings given to the user via Bluetooth headphones. The harness is equipped with ultra-wide-angle cameras on the left of the chest, a battery behind the neck, and a small computer on the right of the chest. This solution works much like a self-driving car, able to detect static obstacles (i.e. holes, branches, traffic signs), and moving obstacles such as pedestrians, bicycles or electric scooters. biped filters obstacles based on trajectories, with the goal of never overloading the user.
The two founders’ vision is to build a life-changing solution, that lets users discover new places entirely on their own, safely and independently. biped vows to remain very simple to use, to become smaller over time, and to always do more. It will be able to read text, recognize faces, detect specific crosswalks, provide indoor navigations in specific buildings, and even help the user run or ice-skate in the future.
The co-founders Mael and Bruno met at a Hackathon, a social coding event, in Switzerland. They were both driven by the will to have an impact on peoples’ lives. In less than a year, the idea had turned into a growing startup, with five collaborators, 250+ beta-testers, six prototypes and over ten key partners including the Ophthalmic Hospital Jules Gonin in Lausanne.
The startup is currently entering the market and aims to have their device reimbursed by insurance to make it affordable for end users.