1How does the SmartCane device detect objects without coming in contact with them?
The SmartCane device has ultrasonic sensors that are used for detection. These sensors transmit and receive ultrasonic waves, there are sound waves at a frequency beyond the human hearing range. When an obstacle comes in the path of these waves, they are reflected back and are detected by the sensor. On detection of any obstacle, the device produces vibrations to indicate the presence of that obstacle.
2Why are there two modes (short range and long range modes) of detection available in the SmartCane device?
Generally, in an indoor environment objects are usually close to the user. While, in an outdoor setting, objects are usually present at greater distances. Therefore, while moving around in an open environment, a longer range will be useful for detection and in a closed environment the short range mode will be useful. It is important to select the appropriate mode for optimal usage. For instance, if you are navigating in an indoor environment with the device set in long range mode, the device will vibrate continuously due to numerous nearby obstacles. Similarly, if you are navigating outdoors with the device set in the short range mode, you will detect the presence of an obstacle only upon it coming closer than1.8 meter.
3Why do I need to set the angle of the sensors?
The sensor angle adjustment mechanism allows optimal usage by persons with different heights and cane holding styles. The sensor angle determines the direction of the ultrasonic rays that are emitted in the form of a cone. If the cone is tilted downwards, it would continuously detect the floor. If the cone is directed highly upwards then it will not be able to detect knee to head-high obstacles. Therefore, it is essential to set the sensor angle at a position such that the sensors face towards the chest of a person standing in front of you at a distance of 2 meters. This setting will help the sensor detect objects at heights between your knee and head height.
4Why does my device beep and/or vibrate on switching it ON?
When the device is turned on, the initial beeps/vibrations indicate the level of charge remaining in the battery. A single vibration indicates that the battery is low (less than 30 %), two vibrations indicate that the battery is moderately charged (30-70%) and three vibrations indicate that the device is almost fully charged (70% – 100%). Please note that the vibrations are accompanied with beeps in the long range mode.
5Is the SmartCane device a replacement of the white cane?
The SmartCane device is not a replacement for your white cane. Instead, it compliments and enhances its use by detecting raised obstacles, thereby increasing safety. Tapping of the cane according to the correct mobility technique must be continued for detection of ground level obstacles.
6Can I use the SmartCane device without attaching it to the white cane?
Yes, you can use the device without attaching it to a white cane if you are walking in a familiar place where you usually do not use the white cane. The device still works and helps you detect obstacles which appear within the ultrasonic cone range. Please note that the device does not detect obstacles below the knee-level. Hence, it is always recommended to use the SmartCane device along with the white cane.
7Can I use SmartCane device during rain?
The SmartCane device uses ultrasonic waves which are so sensitive that they may even detect rain water droplets. Hence, during heavy rain the device may vibrate due to rain droplets. However, this may not happen during light rain. Hence, the use of the device is not recommended during rain as the detection functionality may be uncertain. The device can be used again once the rain stops.
8What protection needs to be taken if it rains while I am using this device?
You can switch off your device, detach it from the white cane and keep it safely. Water seepage will not damage your device. However, when the water droplets reach inside the sensors, the sensors may not be able to sense the obstacles properly. Once, the water in the sensors dries up, the device can be used again.
9Can the SmartCane device be used in detecting a change in the surface level like a staircase or main halls?
As discussed earlier, the SmartCane device detects knee-above obstacles. The device cannot be used for detecting change in surface level for example staircases, main halls etc. where the white cane technique will be more useful than the SmartCane device.
10Does the device identify the type or nature of the obstacles that are being detected?
The purpose of the SmartCane device is to detect the presence of any obstacle from a safe distance. It does not recognize the type of the obstacle. However, after detecting the presence of an obstacle through vibrations, the user can then come closer in a safe way and identify the obstacle with her/his white cane to confirm if it is a landmark of interest.
11Do I need to replace the batteries of the device?
You do not need to replace the batteries. The device uses a re-chargeable battery similar to the one used in mobile phones. It can be charged simply by connecting the charger provided in the package. Battery will be replaced only at the manufacturer’s authorized service centers.
12 How long will the device work if the device was fully charged?
A fully charged battery can last 8 hours of continuous use. For instance, if a person uses this device for approximately 1.5 hours every day then the device can be used for a week without recharge (1.5*7 days = 10.5 hrs > 8 hrs). Note that the device takes 4 hours to get fully charged.
13 Why does my device beep occasionally when on road?
The device beeps when a fast moving object approaches the user from the front. The object can be a person walking on the side walk, a car, a bicycle or a truck. As with other SmartCane features, this will require some training to become habitual. Please continue following other safety precautions you normally observe during independent cane mobility.
14 How would I differentiate between the beep sounds for detecting fast approaching obstacles and the ones indicating low battery ?
When the device detects a fast approaching object, it generates a beep sound whose duration depends on the time for which it remains in the detection range of the device. This is different from the low battery beep signal which is of a very short duration and which repeats every 60 seconds.
15 Can I use my existing cane with this device?
Yes, you can use your existing cane with the SmartCane device after some simple modifications provided it conforms to the diameter specifications of the device. However, it is recommended to use the cane that comes with the SmartCane device.
16 What should I do if the length of the cane that came attached is not appropriate as per my requirements?
The length of the cane that comes with the device is chosen such that it meets the requirement of most users. However, if there is a significant difference in the length of your white cane and the one that comes with the device then you should inform the local organization or center from where you purchased the device. Subject to availability, the center may provide an appropriate replacement for the white cane.
17 In case my cane breaks or if I wish to change my cane, can I replace it without purchasing a new SmartCane device?
Yes, the old cane can be easily detached from the device and a new compatible cane of the same type can be put in its place.
18 I use white cane that is fine for my mobility needs, then why do I need this device?
The SmartCane device complements and enhances the functionality of the regular white cane. The device is able to detect raised knee-above obstacles like sides of a vehicle etc. that cannot otherwise be detected by the white cane. The device detects the presence of obstacles much before coming in contact and indicates the distance through vibrations. This prevents dangerous collisions and allows the person to navigate around the obstacle. Overall, the device improves safety and reduces anxiety of unexpectedly colliding with an obstacle in the user’s path. In many cases, the device prevents unwanted collision with other people, garbage dumps etc. that may be socially awkward. Users have also reported that they travel faster on the road with a sense of greater confidence. Apart from its detection functionality, the device is lightweight, has an ergonomic grip, fits on the white cane and is easy and intuitive to use, particularly with a fully accessible interface.
19 What is the weight of the device? Is it too heavy to hold and use?
The SmartCane device is lightweight with a total weight of only 132 grams (excluding the white cane). Initially, it may take some time and practice to become habitual with the new handle shaped device (with a small additional weight) mounted on top of the cane. During our extensive studies, users have been observed to be comfortable using the device regularly for extended.
20 How long does it take to become a confident SmartCane user?
It does not take very long to learn this device. With initial learning and regular practice you will start observing the utility of the device in your mobility. This will be apparent when you begin moving independently while negotiating knee-above obstacles from a distance and navigating with grace. Some users are able to reach this stage in a few days while others may require 1 to 2 weeks. Usually, after 3 to 4 weeks of regular use you can become a fully confident SmartCane user. However, please note that this depends on carefully observing the usage guidelines and regular practice.
21 Are the ultrasonic waves emitted from the device safe?
The SmartCane is CE marked and meets International safety standards. It uses a safe ultrasonic sensor at an intensity much below its rating. We have also tested it in the field for many hours to assess any discomfort to other users, animals etc. and found no adverse results. It can be safely used according to the methods and situations prescribed in the manual.
22 Will the vibratory responses from the device cause any harm to the touch sensitivity of my hand?
We have calibrated the vibration levels to be safe for continuous use – much like that of a cell phone. Each individual is different and it may take longer for some to get used to the vibrations. Our users have not observed any change in touch sensitivity due to prolonged use.
23 Will my SmartCane device withstand falling on the ground?
The SmartCane device has been designed to withstand occasional and accidental drops. However, the ultrasonic sensors are sensitive and may be affected by falling. They have been protected in the device against the mechanical shocks and regular wear and tear during normal usage. The device has a self-check feature to ensure the sensors are functioning. If the user drops the device, it is important to check for any sensor malfunction alerts before operating the SmartCane. Instructions for this are in the user manual and given during training.
24 The device vibrates constantly when I use it in a crowded environment leaving me irritated and confused.
The device provides obstacle information through vibratory responses. When you are walking in a busy or a crowded street you may constantly encounter obstacles and hence, the device keeps on vibrating. As it is unlikely to experience any critical waist high obstacle when walking in the crowd, you can simply switch the device off for some time and use the SmartCane like a regular white cane. You can switch it on again when needed.