The Virtual Cane

Accessible interfaces have been created using the Nintendo Wii Remote (Wiimote) device, and other Wii technology. The Virtual Cane uses the Wiimote’s ability to describe a body within 3D space to provide an interface to 3D environments for the visually impaired.

The Wii Cane System maps the real world position and orientation of a Wiimote to that of a virtual counterpart within a simulated 3D environment so that it can be used as a cane within the environment. Auditory, verbal and vibratory feedback are provided in various forms which can be used by people who are blind and visually impaired to navigate their way around virtual environments.

Using this system, people with visual impairment can explore new spaces to help them improve spatial maps of the spaces, and build their confidence in moving around the real spaces, which will greatly enhance their ability to move around the world independently. This means that it would be a significant aid for supporting independent navigation for those with serious visual impairment.

Using Wii technology has many advantages, not least of which are that it is mainstream, readily available and cheap, meaning that it would be easily available to all. This system was invented and created by Steven Battersby of the ISRG and developed in conjunction with other members of the group.

The video above shows Allan Ridley, a member of the ISRG who is blind, using the system. Video courtesy of Steph Oliver (editor and reporter) and Philip Cobbalt (camera), (2008) Interactive Technology at Nottingham Trent University, Final Year NTU CBJ TV news report on the First Interactive Technology Conference, NTU, November, 2008