Consortium to Develop AI Suitcase for Visually Impaired

Economy Science Technology

Tokyo, Feb. 6 (Jiji Press)--A consortium of five companies including IBM Japan Ltd. said Thursday that they will develop a suitcase equipped with artificial intelligence for use by those with visual impairments.

The suitcase will be mounted with cameras and sensors, and will be capable of moving on its own. The product will guide the user to a destination in an indoor environment while detecting and avoiding obstacles. In addition to navigating users, a feature to detect and notify users of approaching acquaintances is also being considered.

The consortium members other than IBM Japan are general contractor Shimizu Corp. <1803>, control system manufacturer Omron Corp. <6645>, electronic parts maker Alps Alpine Co. <6770> and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. <7211>. The companies will pool their expertise in the fields of image recognition, positioning and speech dialogue technologies to develop the product.

The project was inspired by Chieko Asakawa, a visiting professor at Carnegie Mellon University in the United States. Asakawa, a fellow at U.S. technology giant IBM, has a visual impairment.

The consortium will test the suitcase at Japanese shopping facilities from June. It plans to identify issues and make the devices installed on the suitcase smaller and more lightweight over a three-year period. It has yet to decide when to make the product commercially available.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press