NEW DELHI 27/NOV/2014: Kunal Bhat, an employee at Tech Mahindra, recently had an \'aha\' moment while climbing down a dimly-lit staircase. He bumped straight into a wall, and that set him thinking. \"I was lost in thought and didn\'t \"see\" the wall. So how would it be for a visually impaired person, and what could be an alternative?\" he recalls. He didn\'t let the experience die there though. Bhat set about researching mobility, and came up with goggles for the blind. Bhat went on to win a contest for best innovative business concept, while his employer incubated the goggles, its first innovation product. Tech MahindraBSE 0.29 % has filed for a patent but is not immediately looking at putting the product on sale. The way the goggles work is simple: the wearer senses things in his or her path and forms a three-dimensional mental image of surroundings while anticipating obstacles earlier than the white cane.
The technology can be adapted to other applications such as autonomous vehicles, manufacturing units, space programmes and defence, and the company is looking at upgrading the application to driverless cars. Over the next one year, though, Tech Mahindra wants to make it a part of its corporate social responsibility activity. It is running a pilot in Bangalore along with two voluntary organisations. Tech Mahindra is actively looking at this as an investment, says Sirisha Voruganti, global head innovation. \"Any big company will look at next leap in technology or rather, at spaces where the next billion dollars will come from,\" she explains.
The goggles are paired with a smartphone, which comes with a specialised smart glass. The phone camera scans the user\'s environment and analyses it for potential objects of collision using algorithms. It then calculates their position and distance from the user and passes on this information wirelessly to the smart glass (See chart). Nearly six visually impaired people from two non-governmental organisations have volunteered to carry out the user trials. For the next version, features such as location and direction feedback, audio feedback, interdevice communication, cloudbased analysis, context-sensitive analysis and collective intelligence will be incorporated, says Bhat, who has earned himself the tag of innovator and intrapreneur at Tech Mahindra.