Arduino Smart Cane for the Visually Impaired: Best Arduino Project

From our STAR Maker: Suhail

Arduino smart cane

Could you imagine how the life of a person who is blind could be? Many of them can’t even walk without the help of others. Their life always depends upon their caregivers and can be quite difficult for them alone. So I wanted to make something for them that would help them become independent. An open source arduino project for a Smart Cane is what I have created. This arduino smart cane can assist them while walking alone in new environments by taking inputs through an obstacle sensor (ultrasonic sensor) and providing feedback to the person through haptics (vibration motor). Check out the video below for the demo and working.

One day while I was walking to my college, I witnessed a blind person who was walking through the street. He was facing difficulty in walking in through that busy street. Fortunately, I was able to help him at that time. However it was at that moment that I got an epiphany, I realised that I could use technology to assist people like him. It was that evening when I came up with this idea: The Smart Cane. I wanted it to be very cheap and easily replicable so that even a kid can make it easily in a couple of hours from scratch.

Using this Arduino Smart Cane, a visually impaired person can walk without anyone’s help. The cane can automatically detect the obstacle in front of the person and give him a feedback response by vibrating the walking stick and also through a warning sound. Through this tool, the blind person can thus be aware about the obstacles in front of him. I used an Ultrasonic sensor with an Arduino for detecting the obstacles. And it costed me just 10$ to make one. So it is cheap and also easy to make without the need of much soldering. Now lets get started!

What are the stuff required to do this project?

  1. An Arduino uno.
  2. An Ultrasonic sensor (HCSR04).
  3. Mini breadboard.
  4. 9 volt battery.
  5. 9 volt battery connector.
  6. DC male power jack.
  7. A Buzzer.
  8. Some jumper wires.
  9. A broken cellphone (for the vibration motor).
  10. A Toggle switch.

Arduino smart cane

Other tools needed:

  1. 3/4 inch diameter PVC pipe (used for making the walking stick).
  2. 3/4 inch diameter PVC elbow.
  3. Insulation tape.
  4. Some small screws for mounting Arduino.
  5. Screwdriver.
  6. Utility knife.
  7. Instant adhesive Glue.
  8. A Box to put your Arduino and other electronics.

How does it work?Arduino smart cane

The technology behind the Arduino Smart Cane is pretty straight forward. There are mainly three blocks behind it: input, controller and output. The input consists of an ultrasonic sensor that is capable of detecting obstacles in front of it at a range of upto 400cm. It is interfaced to a controller: the arduino which determines if an obstacle is too close to the cane and triggers the output if it is. The output consists of a vibration motor to provide haptic response and a piezo buzzer. If you want to learn more about the ultrasonic sensor and interfacing  it to an arduino, check out this tutorial from our Maker Jeff.

STEP 1: Salvaging the vibration motor from the cellphone

After finding a broken cellphone, we need to remove the vibration motor from it. You would have to do this step with care and patience. I used a micro vibrator motor from an old broken cellphone that was lying around my home. The reason I have used this, is because of its very small size and as it works with low voltages.Arduino smart cane

Unscrew the cellphone you have and disassemble all the parts like shown in the above images. You can see the vibrator motor located at a side of the phone’s case. Take out the motor carefully from the cellphone.

Please note: different cellphones have different vibrator motors (in size and shape).

Arduino smart cane

Now solder the motor on a small piece of general purpose PCB. Then solder two wires to the terminals of the motor like shown in the above images.

STEP 2: Interfacing Arduino

Now its time for wiring the Arduino! It can be done pretty easily and does not have any complicated wiring. See the above schematics and carefully connect all parts to the arduino. I used a mini breadboard to connect the ultrasonic sensor to the Arduino using jumper wires. Other parts like the buzzer and motor is directly connected to the Arduino. You can see the wiring diagram from the below image for our arduino smart cane.Arduino smart cane

I shall also explain the connections for each part:

  • Ultrasonic VCC to Arduino 5v.
  • Ultrasonic GND to Arduino GND.
  • Ultrasonic TRIG to Arduino D12.
  • Ultrasonic ECHO to Arduino D11.
  • Buzzer RED to Arduino D8.
  • Buzzer BLACK to Arduino GND.
  • Vibrator motor pin 1 to Arduino D7.
  • Vibrator motor pin 2 to Arduino GND
  • 9 volt battery RED to Toggle switch pin 1.
  • 9 volt battery BLACK to DC male power jack(-).
  • Toggle switch pin 2 to DC male power jack (+).

Arduino smart cane

Now we finished the wiring!

STEP 3: Upload the sketch for the Arduino Smart Cane

Now its time for uploading the sketch. The sketch for Arduino is given below, copy this into your Arduino IDE, then upload it to your Arduino board.

#define trigPin 13
#define echoPin 12
#define motor 7
#define buzzer 6

void setup()
{ pinMode(trigPin, OUTPUT);
pinMode(echoPin, INPUT);
pinMode(motor, OUTPUT);
pinMode(buzzer,OUTPUT);
}

void loop()
{ long duration, distance;
digitalWrite(trigPin, LOW); 
delayMicroseconds(2); 
digitalWrite(trigPin, HIGH);
delayMicroseconds(10); 
digitalWrite(trigPin, LOW);

duration = pulseIn(echoPin, HIGH);
distance = (duration/2) / 29.1;

if (distance < 70) // Checking the distance, you can change the value
{ 
digitalWrite(motor,HIGH); // When the the distance below 100cm
digitalWrite(buzzer,HIGH);
} else
{
digitalWrite(motor,LOW);// when greater than 100cm
digitalWrite(buzzer,LOW); 
} delay(500);
}

 

STEP 4: Making the Arduino Smart Cane

Arduino smart cane
I used a PVC pipe for making the walking stick. If you have a walking stick lying around your home, you can use that, else follow this step. I used a 3/4 inch diameter PVC pipe and a ‘L’ shaped elbow for making the walking stick. Take a look at the above images to make the walkingstick and follow these instructions:

  • First take a PVC pipe (3/4 inch diameter), then cut a piece of it that is one and half meter .
  • Take a ‘L’ shaped elbow and attach it to one end of the pipe.
  • Take another small piece of PVC pipe (10 cm long), then attach it to the other end of the elbow.
  • Glue it.

I have wrapped the walking stick with black insulation tape because I like how it looks or you can even paint it.

STEP 5: Attaching the components on the Smart Cane

This is the hardest step in this project. It took me hours to design and fix the parts onto the walking stick. Find a box that we can use to put all our electronics together. I used foam board to make a box myself. You can do that easily.

Arduino smart cane

Fix your Arduino in the box using screws. Now make two holes for fixing the Ultrasonic sensor on the lid of the box as shown in the above image. I fixed the buzzer outside of the box for better sound. Next I attached the toggle switch at the side of the box and made a small hole for connecting the vibration motor to Arduino. Fix the battery inside of the box and connect the power jack to the Arduino.

Now attach the box on the walking stick, you can either use screw or glue. Here I used an instant adhesive, because its quite strong. After attaching the box to the walking stick take out the vibrator motor and fix it below the elbow. I used insulation tape for doing this.

Arduino smart cane

And thats it! We just made an Arduino Smart Cane for assisting blind individuals. Check out the demo video:

You can continue to add more features to this project and contribute towards helping people with visual impairments.

HAPPY MAKING :)

Suhail

From our STAR Maker: Suhail

 

-Submitted by Suhail
Currently doing my BCA final year in Calicut University. I am a maker from Malappuram, passionate on making things and IoT. Presently focusing on eco friendly technologies and AI devices. My inspiration has always been the work of Steve Jobs.

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Showing 3 comments
  • Mohammad rehan
    Reply

    I removed the vibrator from my old nokia phone. How may i ensure that the machine is working or not before soldering it?

  • Jen
    Reply

    This is something that has to be encouraged. This device could be developed to an even better stance and make it available for all the needy once out there. Great move!

  • kannadhasan.M
    Reply

    Hello sir i am kannadhasan i am interest to create home based automation using android smartphone. But i don’t knowledge about that session please any one help me. My mail Id:kannadhasancs@gmail.com

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