A blind man recently completed a 5-kilometer run in New York City’s Central Park without a guide dog or human assistance.
Its navigation device was artificial intelligence, which reported the route through headphones connected to a smartphone. “The safest thing for a blind person is to sit still. I don’t sit still, people are born to run, ”said Thomas Panek, 50, who lost his eyesight due to a genetic disease when he was in his 20s. He now runs the Guiding Eyes for the Blind school of guide dogs. Thomas is a marathon enthusiast, but he is tired of having to follow the slower runners who “led” him through the course as guides. So a year ago, he decided to find a way to run alone. Panek approached Google with a request to develop a program for a mobile phone that could tell a runner where to go. They created a research program and found a solution: a smartphone camera captures a “guide” line drawn on the treadmill, a special application determines the runner’s position relative to this line and gives him the appropriate sound guidance through the headphones. After the test, Panek said: “It’s not only a real feeling of freedom and independence, but, you know, you get the feeling that you are the same as everyone else.”
New hope for the blind