Blind people in Egypt are now able to move around with ease thanks to a new technology developed in 2014 by Egyptian entrepreneur, Khaled Shady. The 24-year-old told How We Made It In Africa that his invention, known as Mubser, helps the blind and visually impaired to identify and navigate around everyday objects. With the help of three other computer engineering graduates from Menoufia University in Egypt, Shady developed a wearable device that uses RGB imaging and infrared depth data captured by a 3D camera, to help individuals move around obstacles.
The device, which uses vibration monitors to guide the user, recognizes objects such as doors, chairs, and staircases, and is able to name these objects for the user using a Bluetooth-connected headset.
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Shady is hoping to improve the device to a level where it will help blind people easily find their way around the house and in public.
“It’s about the future for them, that’s how I keep thinking about the platform itself. So in the next five years, I see Mubser as being the sixth sense that they depend on,” Shady explained to How We Made It In Africa.
He says the inspiration to create this technology came from the desire and the sense of responsibility to help his friend who lost his vision in an accident at the age of 15.
“I found that entrepreneurship and technology could be combined to help my friend and other kids just like him,” he said.
Political Instability and Few Manufacturers
While acknowledging the tremendous steps he and his team have made in making Mubser a success, Shady points out several major challenges that they have encountered along the way.
He says the lack of manufacturers in Egypt who could help them develop the device has been a huge challenge, forcing the small team to rely on manufacturers from the United States and China.
Political uncertainty in Egypt is another setback that has made it difficult for Shady and his team to rollout the device in good time.
Despite these challenges, Shady remains optimistic about the future of the device, saying the nature of the African market gives local entrepreneurs an opportunity to succeed.