Smart cane for the visually impaired secures £600k in seed capital to speed up global growth
An innovative cane for the visually impaired that uses smart technology has raised £600,000 from European investors in its first round of funding.
London-based assistive tech start-up WeWALK will use the seed capital to fast-track its growth and invest in further product development.
Developed by Turkish designer Kursat Ceylan, who is also blind, the WeWALK cane incorporates a range of smart technology to help visually-impaired people navigate their surroundings easier and safer.
The aid boasts sensors that warn the user of an approaching obstacle by sending vibrations through its handle, including ultrasonic sensors that can detect obstructions above chest level.
In addition, the cane has a smartphone app that provides such functions as navigation, where it can actively direct users step-by-step to destinations such as restaurants and pubs, communicating to users as they walk through speakers or headphones.
The smart aid has also been designed on an open platform which enables third-parties to develop apps for the device, such as bus companies developing smart timetables or ridesharing apps like Uber syncing with it.
Gökhan Meriçliler, Co-founder and UK Country Lead of WeWALK, commented: “We created WeWALK using cutting-edge technology to get visually impaired people wherever they want to go, safely, effectively, and independently. With the support of our investors and strategic partners, such as Microsoft and Imperial College London, we are set to deliver an even bigger impact for the visually impaired community worldwide,”
The young company will now use the funding to increase worldwide sales and boost customer support, as well as roll out new software updates and commence development of its next generation of WeWALK cane.
WeWALK has been awarded an Edison Gold Medal (2018), was one of TIME’s best inventions of 2019 and has also received an honourable mention (May 2020) in World Changing Ideas, a major annual award by Fast Company that recognises products, companies and design that are pursuing innovation for the good of society.
The device is currently on sale through international visually impaired organisations and distributors, as well as directly through its website.
See how the WeWALK cane works below: