Ford has created a device that could help visually impaired travelers get a sense of what the scenery around them looks like. It's called "Feel the View" and it turns a window into a vibrating depiction of what's outside. First, with the push of a button, the device snaps a picture of the window's view. It then turns that picture into a grayscale image and each shade of gray corresponds to a vibration of different intensity. Feel the View can generate up to 255 different levels of vibrations. The blind or visually impaired rider can then touch the window and feel what the outside looks like.
Along with the vibrations, an AI-powered vocal assistant connected to the car's audio system can give a short description of what's being felt. In the video below, you can see the vocal assistant tell a rider that she's touching a snowy mountain as she traces it on the window. "We seek to make people's lives better and this was a fantastic opportunity to help blind passengers experience a great aspect of driving," Ford Italy spokesperson Alù Saffi said in a statement. "The technology is advanced, but the concept is simple – and could turn mundane journeys into truly memorable ones."
Ford says Feel the View -- which was conceived and developed by Ford's Italian team, GTB Roma and Aedo, a start-up interested in devices for the visually impaired -- is a prototype. We've reached out to Ford to see if there are plans to further develop and manufacture the device and we'll update this post when we hear more.