Magazine article Science News

Stepping out with a Smarter Cane

Magazine article Science News

Stepping out with a Smarter Cane

Article excerpt

As people get older, they can have a tough time getting around. But one teen showed that sometimes technology can keep seniors up and moving.

Mary Hood, 17, has developed a cane that senses stairs, curbs and other potential hazards. It also tracks its users' heart rates, reminds them to take their medication and even lights the path ahead. "I guess I got the idea from my grandma," says Hood, a junior at Sargent High School in Monte Vista, Colo. "She's 84 and she's visually impaired. I felt that technology could really make a difference for her."

Hood's new "smart" cane is full of sensors. Some measure elevation by sending out tiny pulses of a high-pitched sound. That sound bounces off objects ahead, such as a coffee table, and then returns to the sensor. If the cane gets too close to an obstacle, its sensors make the handle vibrate, warning the walker to watch out. …

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