Sounds are crucial for blind or visually impaired people to orient themselves in the world. But many, if not most, obstacles on the way on foot – from pedestrians to bicycles to electric vehicles – are practically noiseless and therefore dangerous for people who cannot rely on their eyesight.
And that's where biped comes in: the device is worn on the shoulders and is equipped with wide-angle cameras. Using bone-sound headphones, it sends GPS instructions and signals that warn of possible collisions. Thus, it works a bit like a self-driving car for pedestrians.
In the Cat!apult podcast, biped CTO Bruno Vollmer talks about functions and applications, his motivation and what is possible with artificial intelligence.
SAID & NOTED
With the combination of direction, volume and type of sound, it's easy to understand what is happening around you and at what distance.
One of the most complex problems we had: what form do we put biped in?
Biped is not designed for children because they would become very dependent on this solution if introduced so early. What if there are ever technical problems or the battery runs out?
It's not as if I believed that we could solve all the problems in the world with artificial intelligence. But it offers a great many new possibilities for solving problems.
biped is meant to replace the blind man's stick.
Our long-term goal is complete independence for the blind.
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Bruno Vollmer (1994, Cologne, Germany) holds a Bachelor's and a Master's degree in Computer Science from RWTH Aachen University. During his Master's degree, he focused on computer vision and machine learning. Afterwards, Bruno Vollmer worked at several start-ups in the field of smart city and bus fleet management. He met Maël Fabien at a hackathon. Together they founded biped and assembled a team from the EPFL campus in Lausanne.
Bruno Vollmer's greatest passion alongside his professional work are the mountains. Most weekends he can be found hiking or climbing, and he has also worked as a climbing instructor at sports camps in Croatia.