AI News, Second sight: Device helps blind sailors

Second sight: Device helps blind sailors

Working under the direction of Olin faculty members Alex Morrow, John Geddes and Paul Ruvolo, a group of Olin students known as Olin Adaptive Team Sailing has invented a system that helps blind sailors compete in match racing, a sailing competition in which two teams of visually impaired sailors race against one another without assistance from sighted sailors.

The Olin system will add two components to make it easier for each team to determine the position and direction of the competing boats and the buoys: a GPS sensor to measure each boat's position relative to the competing boat and the acoustic buoys, and a boom sensor is used to detect which tack the boat is on.

Matt Chao, a blind sailor from Newton, Mass., who has decades of experience in the fiercely competitive world of blind racing, says the Olin system will significantly improve his experience of sailing.

'Most of what I do is helm -- I'm a driver -- and this will give me a greater degree of independence and will return silence back to the boat, as opposed to the current system, which has a lot of audible stimuli.'

He sees a small-scale manufacturing effort taking place over the next year to create up to eight of the new devices for use at blind sailing venues around the country.

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