Guide robot and smart cane on display at Forth Valley Sensory Centre

Researchers from the University of Glasgow demonstrated the benefits of new assistive technology at an event on Wednesday

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A robot named Pepper, capable of guiding those with sight loss around buildings, was the star of a demonstration at Forth Valley Sensory Centre on Wednesday 26 January.

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Pepper: a robot designed to help guide people around buildings
Alongside the robot, a smart cane that helps blind and partially sighted people to identify objects using sensors and vibrations was also on display.

Pepper was designed by the Communication, Sensing and Imaging (CSI) Research Group and is able to learn the layout of a building, navigate obstacles and identify certain objects.

The demonstration event was supported by RNIB Scotland and its Haggeye youth forum.

Dr Wasim Ahmad, of the CSI Research Group, highlighted that technology has progressed at a “phenomenal” pace in recent decades but accessibility has not always mirrored this development.

“One of the things we are doing as part of this work is finding out what the needs of people with sensory conditions are and looking at potential solutions to the challenges they are faced with on a daily basis,” he said.

Chief executive of the Forth Valley Sensory Centre, Jacquie Winning, shared that social distancing requirements during the pandemic had created challenges for the blind and partially sighted community.

“We saw during the pandemic huge issues with people struggling to social distance and stores being fearful of assisting blind people to shop. Pepper is a wonderful solution to that problem,” she said.