Can a smart walking cane overcome the stigma of using an assistive device? Perhaps. It’s more likely for the tech-savvy generations coming up who might be happy for all the help they can get. This cane for sighted people is still a cane regardless of tech additions. Stigma is a major factor in the lack of take-up of assistive devices in current older generations.
It remains to be seen whether the features attract users who are not familiar with smart phones. However, it is good to see someone working to make simple technology such as a walking cane more attractive. It’s about time.
People who currently use a smart watch to monitor their every move could be attracted to this cane. The Can Go cane is equipped with a dozen sensors, GPS and activity tracking. It also has a flashlight and cellular data for emergency phone calls. There are three buttons on the handle: one for making a call, another to use the flashlight, and the third to alternate information on the display screen. It also measures how much weight you’re putting on the cane, and your overall gait speed. There’s a built-in sim card, too.
Don Norman, a former Apple VP, was part of the design team. He is an advocate for user-friendly design and stripping away the stigma attached to mobility devices. Norman’s 1988 book has an entire chapter on the stigma of mobility devices.
The FastCompany article has no mention of co-designing with users. The title of the article is, “After smart homes and smart rings meet Can Go the world’s smartest cane”.
This cane is different to the specialised canes for people who are blind.