Author Topic: iPhone 12: almost a virtual guide dog?  (Read 444 times)

iPhone 12: almost a virtual guide dog?
« on: December 10, 2020, 08:42:39 pm »
I saw a report on the BBC recently about how the iPhone12 now has lidar and can be used to help a visually impaired person navigate the dangerous outdoors by warning of obstacles and being more precise in general navigation.  This sort of tech progress sounds wonderful to me as a registered blind person who as yet can just about manage without a dog.

I am serious considering getting an iPhone 12 just for this feature but wonder if there are any 12 users here who might already have tried this capability out yet?

I have only ever had a gen 1 iPod nano from Apple but this looks to be a real game changer.

citoyen

  • Occasionally rides a bike
Re: iPhone 12: almost a virtual guide dog?
« Reply #1 on: December 10, 2020, 09:00:36 pm »
Wasn’t aware of this but I just downloaded a lidar scanner app...

And that’s when I found out it’s only compatible with the iPhone 12 Pro. Mine is a Mini.

Oh well!

But I presume it’s worth you knowing this if that’s why you’re considering getting an iPhone 12.
"The future's all yours, you lousy bicycles."

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: iPhone 12: almost a virtual guide dog?
« Reply #2 on: December 10, 2020, 09:07:02 pm »
I'm generally sceptical about this sort of thing, but putting a lidar sensor in mainstream phones (presumably for augmented reality and camera gimmicks) can only a good thing for development of this and all sorts of other assistive applications we haven't thought of yet.  Be interested to see how useful it is in practice.   :thumbsup:

(Also, it's bound to smell better than a dog.)
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

Re: iPhone 12: almost a virtual guide dog?
« Reply #3 on: December 10, 2020, 09:13:08 pm »
Thanks very much for checking.  Much obliged.

What I'll probably do is wait for some real world reviews.  I suspect gen 1 tech will be good but future iterations will improve to the point where Samsung and perhaps other android manufacturers will feel the need to be on board too.  I have read that Samsung are looking at AR tech but probably not in their next handset release due in January.

I believe that there was a Google Guide Dog project not too many years ago but it all seems to have gone quiet on that front.

My major concern is that to work I would need my phone out on display.  What would be better would be an external sensor clipped to clothing linked to the phone by bluetooth or other wireless tech and the phone just processes the data. 

However you look at this though, if the tech bods can provide this sort of functionality and it actually works it will be hugely liberating for millions of visually impaired people who for various reasons do not have access to guide dogs or for whom dogs simply aren't a practical or suitable option.  I was on a Zoom call with Warwickshire Vision Support yesterday and they are extremely excited at the prospect.

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: iPhone 12: almost a virtual guide dog?
« Reply #4 on: December 10, 2020, 09:21:00 pm »
I expect it's going to end up being to guide dogs what Craptions are to STTR.  Which is to say, a lot less hassle and a valuable tool when used appropriately, but no substitute for the real thing.  We need to be wary that it doesn't lead to assistance dog users being refused access (or funding) because they should just "get an app".

Once the sensors become a mainstream thing, I expect they'll appear in all sorts of form factors for toys and robotics applications.  Something hand-held to augment or substitute for a cane seems like an obvious application.  Maybe augmented reality glasses will finally happen?  No doubt the Mega-Global Fruit Corporation of Cupertino, USAnia will come up with a compelling reason for your watch to have lidar, too...

Some years ago, on a foggy night ride, I had a conversation with TimO where we decided that a lidar-based pothole-highlighting device would be a useful cycling accessory.  I think I'd just performed an emergency swerve to avoid what transpired to be a harmless change in the colour of the tarmac, thinking it was a kerb.  I could imagine that sort of thing being invaluable to people with low vision.

Wonder if cheap lidar sensors will make a difference to autonomous vehicle development?  If nothing else, it would be safer than trying to do it all with vision alone.
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

Re: iPhone 12: almost a virtual guide dog?
« Reply #5 on: December 10, 2020, 09:43:04 pm »
For lidar you need the 12 pro or 12 pro max. But if it is a game changer then the extra £200 for Pro over the 12 may well be worth it.
I am often asked, what does YOAV stand for? It stands for Yoav On A Velo

Jaded

  • The Codfather
  • Formerly known as Jaded
Re: iPhone 12: almost a virtual guide dog?
« Reply #6 on: December 10, 2020, 10:55:48 pm »
Hi PB, I'll PM/email you with the comments from my blind friend.

J
If you don't like your democracy, vote against it.

Re: iPhone 12: almost a virtual guide dog?
« Reply #7 on: December 11, 2020, 07:43:18 am »
I previously posted about this. It is very very impressive technology.

What it will enable people to do:
Navigate pavements that have street furniture.
Find shops and shop entrances.
Avoid bumping into people (side effect; the BBC reviewer said she was walking more slowly because she was now conscious of people around her).

What it won't do:
Warn you of cars/cyclists approaching from the side.
Remove the need for a cane and help with uneven pavement.

Currently seems very reliant on holding phone up in front of you. That would get old, fast.
Adding the ability to connect to external sensors, that could be worn on a harness, might be useful.
<i>Marmite slave</i>

Re: iPhone 12: almost a virtual guide dog?
« Reply #8 on: December 11, 2020, 08:13:37 am »
I agree with the external sensor bit but I am unconvinced that a harness is the solution.  Having to faff with something that you wear over clothing for mid summer and mid winter, need to adjust when adding or removing layers, need to adjust for acces to items in inside pockets, etc. brings it's own difficulties and impracticalities for the visually impaired.  I had reason to use an action camera with a gopro harness recently which in itself is a very well thought through product which works admirably for holding the camera for use but only works effectively as a camera harness and was major faffage outside of this.

For maximum benefit the user needs to use this tech in all environments both indoors and outdoors so it has to be able to quickly and seamlessly adapt to such requirements. 

More practical perhaps would be to have a handheld device replacing the cane.  Benefit of this is that existing cane users already have a cane use/storage strategy and new users would learn to use a cane anyway for when it becomes necessary.

For best benefit the tech really needs external sensors but fixing them to a single pair of glasses is limiting in their practicality.  How to implement a viable solution is an interesting conundrum.

citoyen

  • Occasionally rides a bike
Re: iPhone 12: almost a virtual guide dog?
« Reply #9 on: December 11, 2020, 09:09:31 am »
Thanks very much for checking.  Much obliged.

I wasn't aware of this technology being introduced to phones so my interest was very much piqued by your post. Now I'm slightly disappointed that it's not available on my phone!

I don't have the same need as you but I can see lots of useful applications for this.
"The future's all yours, you lousy bicycles."