By James Powell

“Children’s brains are capable of problem solving in ways adults, confined by convention, cannot,” says Professor Gupta surrounded by hundreds of brilliant young inventors and innovators of the future at the UNICEF supported Children’s Creativity Camp in Delhi, India.

“UNICEF has been helping children for years, now children are saying to UNICEF: ‘let us help you!’”

An idea in particular which generated a buzz at the event was goggles for the blind, or G4B. Its inventor, Anang certainly had a busy day with scores of people desperate to see his invention. The G4B enables blind people to navigate completely independently and hands-free. Anang is a secondary school student from Arunachal Pradesh in the North-East of India, but he’s not sure how old he is.

Inventing, he says, is one of his passions.

Anang, centre left, describes how his Goggles for the blind, or G4B, work. His invention can help blind people navigate around any obstructions

“Ideas just keep coming to me,” Anang explained. “Blind people wear goggles anyway, but unfortunately they wear them to hide their eyes. Now I have created something to make the goggles useful.”

The ingenious invention uses the principle of the echolocation – the use of ultra-frequency sounds that bats, for example, use to navigate. The G4B uses two ultrasound sensors on each eyeglass along with an infrared sensor in the centre.  As the wearer moves around vibration sensors built around the goggles (salvaged from discarded mobile phones) produces different vibrations depending on where an obstruction might be. If something is on your left, the left side will vibrate and vice versa. Faster than the speed of sound, the sensors react to help steer the wearer around objects.

A close up image of the G4B using ultrasound & infrared sensors.

G4B has been solely made from discarded materials and uses an open-source microcontroller which Anang built from spare parts after finding the design online.  Professor Gupta exhorts not only the innovation of the product but the approach using discarded and spare parts saying “we must salvage to sustain!”

UNICEF’s Global Innovation Centre is working across the globe with partners to help unlock the big ideas like this that could benefit millions of people. UNICEF is working with Professor Gupta’s Society for Research and Initiatives for Sustainable Technologies and Institutions (Sristi), the organisation which discovered Anang, to refine the G4B prototype to take to market.

Sristi is supported by UNICEF’s Global Innovation Centre, UNICEF India, and UNICEF Office of Innovation.

James Powell from UNICEF’s Global Innovation Centre tests G4B.
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