NAVI hack uses a Microsoft Kinect to let the blind see

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Since the Microsoft Kinect was released in November, hackers have been doing some amazing things with it. Until now, however, these hacks didn’t actually help people. This one does.

The hack in question is called NAVI (Navigational Aids for the Visually Impaired.) It was created by Michael Zöllner and Stephan Huber at the University of Konstanz. It helps the blind to see. Really.

Here is how it works. A Kinect is attached to a helmet and connected to a backpack-mounted Dell laptop. Also connected to the laptop is an Arduino controlled belt that has three separate regions of vibration and a Bluetooth headset. Then the walker is given instructions based on the visuals sent via the Kinect. Not bad. The system will even read signs to the walker, when necessary.