CTA Foundation announced the winners of its fourth annual Eureka Park Accessibility Contest at CES 2019. The winners of this contest were selected from a pool of Extreme Tech Challenge entries based on their ability to benefit older adults and people with disabilities. The five winners each receive a booth in Eureka Park at CES 2019 and a $2,500 prize. The CES 2019 Eureka Park Accessibility Contest winners are:
WeWALK is a technology which fixes to a traditional white cane and enhances its capabilities for people who are blind or have visual impairment. Although technology has been steadily improving, the white cane has stayed the same for a hundred years.
WeWALK have created a ‘smart cane’ which attaches to the traditional white cane. It transforms the cane into an innovative smart cane with a number of features. These include an ultrasonic sensor which detects obstacles above waist height and gives off a vibration to alert users of obstacles, as well as detecting obstructions below, in the same way a standard cane does.
When paired with the WeWALK mobile application via Bluetooth, the customer can use apps with WeWALK’s touchpad voice menu without holding their phone. For example, they can request rides and get navigation on the WeWALK device via apps such as Uber and LYFT.
The device incorporates many cutting-edge technologies including a gyroscope, accelerometer, compass, directional vibration motors, microprocessor, touchpad, microphone, speaker and Bluetooth Low Energy module. It synthesizes these technologies so that the user can easily access these features on one device.
It is currently integrated with Call Management, Google Maps and Amazon Alexa (in Beta mode). Soon it will be integrated with Voice Assistant, Uber and Lyft. These new features are installed through periodic software updates. With WeWALK’s touchpad, users are able to perform certain gestures just like using a smart watch and listen to the instructions and outputs via WeWALK’s speaker.
It has a voice menu that allows the users to control its integrations and features. For example, users can perform a gesture to listen to next GPS direction instead of taking their phones out of their pockets and check the next step via their phones.
The WeWALK team met seven years ago on a leadership development program at university run by the Young Guru Academy (YGA), a non-profit organization founded in Turkey. The Academy works on breakthrough social innovations in the field of technologies for the visually impaired.
Most of the funding comes from WeWALK’s strategic partner, Vestel. Vestel is one of Europe’s largest consumer electronics company and WeWALK is being produced in their factory in Manisa, Turkey. Customers also pre-ordered at the discounted price of $350 in advance via Indiegogo, though the updated cost is to be announced.