Ford is working on Smart Windows that will allow the visually impaired to feel what is going on outside
The windows cleverly convert the view into vibrations that users can feel directly on the window.
It’s all too easy for drivers and their passengers to take the scenery outside their windows for granted. For the visually impaired, not being able to tell what’s on the other side of those windows is a big deal.
Ford feels they can change that and is working to offer a window into a world that the visually impaired do not typically get to experience. This prototype ‘smart window’ is set up to use vibrations to let the blind or partially-sighted person ‘feel’ a passing landscape.
It’s called “Feel the View”, and it’s really quite interesting how it works. By pressing a button, the device takes a picture of the view outside, then turns that into a grayscale image with each shade corresponding to a vibrational intensity between 0 and 255. The visually impaired user can then run their hands across the window and feel what the outside looks like.
Working in conjunction with the vibrations, an AI-powered vocal assistant connected to the car’s audio system can also give a description of what’s being felt, to give a more fleshed out picture. In the video below, you can see this in action, with the vocal assistant telling a rider that she’s touching a snowy mountain as she traces it on the window.
Ford Italy spokesperson Alù Saffi had this to say:
“We seek to make people’s lives better and this was a fantastic opportunity to help blind passengers experience a great aspect of driving. The technology is advanced, but the concept is simple – and could turn mundane journeys into truly memorable ones.”
Ford has reiterated that the Feel the View technology is still a prototype so it will be a while before, and if honestly, it turns up on the open market. Feel The View was conceived and developed by Ford’s team in Italy and GTB Roma, in collaboration with Aedo – a local start-up that specializes in devices for the visually impaired.