Ford’s new smart window lets blind passengers “see” passing scenery using vibrations, touch and AI
Scenic landscapes are one aspect of a road trip that passengers with visual impairments can’t necessarily enjoy. Until now.
Ford has teamed up with Aedo – a startup that specialises in devices for the blind and partially sighted – to launch a prototype smart window that translates the views into something they can feel.
Feel the View, as the technology is known, takes photographs and converts them into high-contrast monochrome images that are reproduced on the glass using special LEDs. The shades of grey are translated into 255 different intensities of vibration that the passenger can feel on the window with their fingers, helping them visualise the scene in their mind.
To give the image further context, Ford’s on-board voice assistant can also use AI to identify the scene and describe it, if prompted. It’s remarkable technology, and as you can see from the promotional video embedded below, it’s seamlessly integrated into what looks like a regular car window. Indeed, the only clue that it isn’t a regular pane of glass is the Feel the View box at the top of the window that includes the button you press to capture a scene.
“We seek to make people’s lives better and this was a fantastic opportunity to help blind passengers experience a great aspect of driving, said Marco Alù Saffi of Ford of Italy. “The technology is advanced, but the concept is simple – and could turn mundane journeys into truly memorable ones.”
It’s not clear how much further testing is required before Feel the View progresses from prototype to being a standard option when purchasing a new car from Ford, but it’s encouraging that Ford is investing in ambitious in-car technology that will totally transform the experience for passengers with visual impairments.