Google’s project guideline is an early stage research project that leverages on device machine learning to help an avid runner Thomas Panek run independently for exercise and physical fitness.
Google’s experimental project uses on device machine learning and headphones and guideline painted on the road to help visually impaired individual navigate independently even while running.
The project came about, when Thomas asked the question, whether tech can help blind man navigate during the 2019 Google hackathon. Thomas Panek is a CEO of non-profit organization, Guiding Eyes for the Blind. In 2019, I decided to run the first half-marathon assisted only by guide dogs. He runs an organization called Guiding Eyes for the Blind, and they work to help people with vision loss receive running guide dogs that can help them live more active and independent lives.
The project uses phones camera, wrapped to the waist or abdomen to detect the markings (painted line) on the road. The phones machine learning algorithm then calculates the if relative position of the individual with respect to the guideline is drifted. The headphones will give audio signals to make the person stay in line with the guideline while running. Google says, all the calculations will be done on device and there is no need for any internet connection.
Google tested the experimental technology with Panek in an indoor oval track. Panek says, after few adjustments he was able to run eight laps and it was the first unguided mile he had run in decades. He then tested the tech outdoor in the month of Aug 2020. When he completed the test run outdoors, he felt free, like effortlessly running through the clouds. For the first time in a lifetime, I didn’t feel like a blind man. I felt free, he says.
Panek and Google are testing the tech further and will be attempting to run to run NYRR’s Virtual Run for Thanks 5K along a line temporarily painted in Central Park in New York City. Read more about how Google’s project guideline helped him to run solo here.
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