Team 20 // CaneX
Visual impairment is a serious problem affecting millions of people around the globe. In today’s world of advancing technology, visually impaired people are still distanced from the freedom of travelling around. CaneX is designed to help these people feel as close as possible with the visually unimpaired. CaneX is an innovative walking cane that enables visually impaired people navigate around crowded cities and landscapes as easily as anyone else, avoiding fixed and moving obstacles along the way. High precision positioning, combined with wide angle camera alerts users in real time movements around them for effective travels.
A Disruptive Technology
CaneX is a hand held device with the option of extending it to act as a full length walking stick. Thus, the user can smoothly adapt to our smart cane solution, while still having the freedom to keep their original travel habit with a physical cane if they want to. The vision of the company is to evolve CaneX into a product that can be worn around a limb, further bringing the ‘unimpaired person’ feel. The future foresight is to also allow for the device to be used by the common consumer, thus removing the need to even watch where they are walking.
Loneliness and solitude is prevalent amongst the blind, especially the elderly. Besides, visually impaired people need extremely strong orienteering skills, even with the use of guide dogs. They require help in navigation, either from peers or from a stranger. Moreover, there is also some amount of social stigma associated with carrying a cane in public. Hence, a very few percentage of the visually impaired people decide to use products designed to get them around. Most of these people only travel from and to specific locations, due to the possibility of getting lost and not knowing the terrain. This challenge can be solved using state of the art technology that is evolving in the world.
Target user / Customer
Target users are visually impaired people around the world. Visually impaired is defined as a person with an eyesight of less than 20/200. There are 30 million visually impaired people in Europe and the number is expected to triple by 2050.
Your solution and how the concept is feasible
CaneX is a handheld device that is an active and a real time intuitive guidance system. Upon IoT connectivity, the location of destination is set up and through the TAPAS high precision positioning, the exact coordinates of the user is obtained. A wide angle camera on the device also observes moving and stationary obstacles in real time, and a torque motor on the device provides the necessary movements that is to be made by the user, analogous to being led by a person or a guide dog. There are also special provisions in the device to pick the three most travelled to destinations, and there is a provision to call peers and relatives to load coordinates for new locations as well.
Through consistent use of the product, the best route between different points are learnt and suggested to the users. There is the option of ‘free walk’ as well – where the user does not fix any destination coordinates. For a smoother transition into using CaneX, it can be extended into a full length traditional cane if needed.
The team has modelled a prototype that is envisioned at this point. There is keen interest across the world for a solution to this problem and plenty of support from governmental agencies is anticipated. We did a thorough feasibility study on our solution, based on technology, cost, and also target user groups. A small trial was successfully ran to extract TAPAS data, which can later be combined with open map API to achieve positioning and navigation. As for the product, a BOM list was made with all the main component we need, which are accessible from the market. The total weight will be around 400-450 grams, while the battery life estimation is 9 hours.
During the prototyping phase, we have successfully obtained real-time position data and movement trajectory from TAPAS module to MATLAB. Watch the demo here:
For market validation, we have visited potential users and stakeholders. The Danish Blind Community (Dansk Blindesamfund) has showed a great interest to our concept, and agreed to set up a testing phase with us.
Four unique value propositions
- Giving visually impaired people the freedom of navigation;
- Sense and avoid real time static and moving obstacles;
- Highly precise positioning with a margin of error of 1 cubic centimeter enables accurate mapping and navigation;
- Reducing social inequality and eliminating barriers to the disabled.
There is a large number of visually impaired people in Europe and around the world, with the numbers expected to increase. Moreover, being an early market mover provides us the advantage of high market penetration. The estimated market potential in Europe for CaneX is 4.5 Billion DKK. The market penetration can be more than expected, given that our product disassociates stigma, thus bringing in more consumers. A conservative market penetration will reach a revenue in Europe of almost 9 million DKK in the next 36 months. We expect to become cash flow positive by the 23rd month of operations.
The more interesting thing is the fact that once the product evolves into a hands free device, the market potentially expands to non-handicapped people, further increasing the revenue potential.
The timeline for our project over the next three years is shown below. We expect to have completed the prototyping and the Beta version by March 2020, upon which we will commence on the testing phase, with the help of Dansk Blindesamfund. Upon further testing and development, we will be ready to roll out the product in key areas of Denmark by July 2020. The expansion strategy is anticipated as follows: Key locations in Denmark > Scandinavia > Rest of Europe. This is a rough timeline that is expected to guide the operations of CaneX, and the team understands that in practice, there may be other issues that could hamper the progress.
Our team consists of four engineers from different fields of engineering, with all competencies needed in the technical and business aspects of the project, thus bringing in different perspectives and plenty of solutions to problems. Moreover, we have a very international and diverse team. Three of the four of us are experienced entrepreneurs, and know what it takes to grind our way out of difficult business situations. We are all very excited to be working on a project that provides a unique value proposition to disabled people, and are determined to work along the obstacles to realize this product.
This diverse team also paves the way to enter different markets in different geographies and the possibility for efficient and effective development of the product.