The incidence of accidents involving visually impaired persons on railway platforms is attracting attention in Japan. Plans to retrofit stations with platform doors or restraints entail considerable cost and construction time. In order to overcome these challenges, Kyocera has developed a system to notify visually impaired pedestrians of danger zones using RFID and wireless transmission technology. The system simply requires passive RF tags to be installed on station platforms and train connection areas. Then, as a Smart Cane user approaches, the cane's RFID antenna detects the tags in real time and sends vibration alerts through the grip of the cane.
As part of its development and testing, Kyocera invited users to its Minato Mirai Research Center in Yokohama to test the prototype around a space designed to replicate the features of a train-station platform.
"We hope to make the Smart Cane more user-friendly by incorporating the real feedback and opinions of users and affiliates into our development efforts," said Hiro Nakagawa, Manager of R&D Planning Department, Corporate R&D Group. "Kyocera's advanced wireless communication technology and software development expertise offer a great opportunity to improve walking safety and the overall quality of life for many people."