A student has designed a handheld ‘robotic guide dog’ to help support people with visual impairments who are unable to house a real assistance animal.
Loughborough University design engineer Anthony Camu was inspired to develop the device by responsive virtual reality gaming controllers.
Dubbed ‘Theia’ — after the Titan goddess of light in Greek mythology — the prototype can replicate the key functions of a real guide dog.
The voice-activated device can program quick and safe routes to given destinations using real-time online data — much like a car’s satnav — and onboard sensors.
Force feedback delivered through Theia’s handle then helps direct the user — creating a sensation the designers say is similar to the pull of a guide dog’s leash.
If developed, the Theia device could provide people with visual impairments with a mobility solution that is ten times cheaper than keeping a guide dog.