Students design a facial recognition cane for blind people

Facial recognition technology has many use cases, but none nearly as significant as this next one might be. A group of students at Birmingham City University are developing a smart cane, dubbed XploR, which uses a combination of hardware and software to help the visually impaired easily identity family and friends. The device is powered by a smartphone's face recognition features, GPS and Bluetooth, allowing blind people who use it to detect faces up to roughly 33ft away. If the cane does recognize someone, it then sends a vibrating signal to the person and guides them via an ear piece -- for reference, the images of loved ones can be stored on an SD card.

"My grandfather is blind and I know how useful this device could be for him," XploR developer Steve Adigbo told "The smart cane incorporates facial recognition technology to alert the user when they are approaching a relative or friend. There's nothing else out there like this at the moment." Right now, the team is still researching what else is essential for cane users, like how light or easy to use it needs to be. And the plan is to test it later this year at the Beacon Centre for the Blind in Wolverhampton, West Midlands, where they will be showing off the training and security aspects of the device.

[Image credit: Getty Images/Vetta]