Smart Paint for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Here is a blind pedestrian walking and using a specially equiped cane to detect a safe path on a city street.

This is another installment in my series on smart coatings. You can access the others by typing in “smart” in the search box near the top of my main blog page.

For this installment, I’m reporting on some pioneering work being done at Ohio State University. If you live in or near Columbus, Ohio you may be familiar with some of the testing areas. The goal is to make it easier for blind and visually impaired people to get around in cities.

Light-converting oxides are integrated in paint that can be read by detectors attached to the tips of white canes. So, by doing nothing more than painting stripes on existing sidewalks, a network of directions can be added to city streets. Horizontal stripes can tell the walker when he or she has reached their destination. It’s a very inexpensive solution to a difficult problem.

The stripes in the picture are yellow, but the oxides can also be added to gray and black paint so the non-blind will hardly notice them.

All around us we are being inundated with smart technologies. I find it fascinating what is also being done to make paints and finishes smart too.

– Bob Flexner