A deaf pensioner struggling to go out alone in case he wanders into the path of a cyclist or a truck is now striding out with confidence – thanks to his cyber bunnet.
Bobby Pitcairn has had problems hearing dangers for 23 years and his brittle bone disease means hearing aids won’t work.
But the 74-year-old, from Gullane, East Lothian, can now go out for a walk without problems thanks to the hat invented for him after he got in touch with BBC1 technology show The Big Life Fix.
In tonight’s show, he meets software engineer and technologist Akram Hussein, who creates two devices that have changed Bobby’s life.
One is an app-enabled bunnet to help him navigate streets, the second is a home assistant subtitling system for chats in the house.
The hat, known as the Bobby 360, is no traditional bunnet.
A mobile phone lens facing out the back is wired up to image recognition software. It’s connected to a tiny vibrating motor which gives Bobby a light jolt if something moves behind him.
Its owner is a convert. He said: “As I don’t normally wear a cap, I felt like Victor Meldrew.
“That was soon forgotten when I felt the vibrations every time a car, bicycle or pedestrian approached from behind.
“Not only does this make walking much safer, it ensures I am not impeding pedestrians.
“Long term, it will be excellent and I’ll be able to use the device while out alone.”
Bobby also struggles to lip read his wife Linda, 69, and their friends and family.
Retired accounts manager Linda said: “Initially, we attended sign language evening classes. We found it very hard, and as none of our friends and family could sign, use was restricted.
“We found that a combination of lip reading and finger spelling was the most effective way of communication but it’s slow.
“I watched the first series and was so impressed that I suggested Bobby should contact Big Life Fix to see if they were aware of any advances in help for deaf people.”