Fujitsu Next Generation GPS Cane: Walking Stick for 21st Century Seniors
As it may seem that smartphones and tablets are getting the majority of the technological innovations these days, many of the arguably more important developments often tend to be left in the dark. Indeed, it was not too long ago that Fujitsu showed off a prototype of a high-tech walking stick. Dubbed the Next Generation Cane, the stick packs things like WiFi, a GPS, and Bluetooth support, among other things, into its glossy black handle – a handle that also doubles as a bright dot matrix screen.
The main idea was to build a cane that allows loved ones to keep an eye on their ageing parents, and one way the resulting device does this is by acting as a mutually-controlled GPS device. If a senior wanted to go to, for example, the convenience store, one would first use the cane's navigation software on a PC to plot the route, using an interface that looks an awful lot like Google Maps. The cane then displays large arrows on its own screen directing the senior towards the store. The LED dots that make up the screen are large, making it easily legible for aged eyesight.
More interestingly, the Next Generation Cane constantly beams its current location back to “mission control” while walking. Perhaps if the convenience store is closed, the route can be edited on the walk. Meanwhile, a step counter (which monitors how many time the cane is tapped against the ground), temperature sensor, and humidity sensor make it easy to watch for trouble. There is a heart rate monitor, too – simply press your thumb on part of the handle, and a number will appear on the screen. To wrap it all up, heart rate and other data can be recorded for sharing with doctors and health professionals.
While all of the above's all well and good, there's still some room for improvement. Maybe some sort of camera on the front, a solar panel instead of batteries for power, and a voice relay feature – I'm sure it would ease the minds of seniors by being able to hear and converse with their loved one(s) whilst on a trip. Then again, the Next Generation Cane is still in development. Perhaps we will see such features in a newer prototype, or in the final version – It just remains to be seen when that final version will come available to the public for purchase or rent.