‘Game-changing’ tech to assist blind, visually impaired being developed in metro Atlanta

ATLANTA — New technology to help blind and visually impaired people get around easier is almost a reality, and it’s being developed in metro Atlanta.

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Channel 2′s Fred Blankenship spoke with the developers who say this will be a game-changer

Electrical engineer Chris Webb can see just fine, but his good friend and business partner, David Furukawa, lost his sight as an adult.

“The future is here. It’s game-changing for the visually impaired,” Webb said.

Sometimes it can be tricky for David to call for a ride or even know which car to get into, so, their company, Foresight Augmented Reality, is working on new technology to put people exactly where they need to be.

“We have proposed creating an app that is consistent across any brand of autonomous vehicle so that a visually impaired person can go in and enter their information of where they’re at, where they’re going,” Webb said.

It’s based on something called ultrawide band technology, which works a little better than GPS. Current tech might put Furukawa 50 to 100 feet away from a ride service. With new tech, he can get as close as 10 centimeters.

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The company is already busy with Bluetooth technology guiding people on the Georgia Tech trolley and in city buildings in Decatur.

Autonomous cars are still about four or five years away. David will be ready and waiting.

“Being able to know that I have the correct vehicle that I’m supposed to get into adds another layer of safety and builds my confidence, so I want to go out more,” Furukawa said.

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The company is one of 10 semifinalists developing technology through the U.S. Department of Transportation Inclusive Design Challenge. First prize is $1 million and should be announced this summer.

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