In yet another example of technology infiltrating even the most mundane objects, this week Fujitsu unveiled a prototype of a cane that contains, among other things, wi-fi, GPS, Bluetooth, and a variety of sensors including a heart rate monitor. Through a companion app, the New Generation Cane can be programmed to guide its user to a location via a built-in LED display as well as vibrations. It can also stream information about the user’s health and whereabouts to relatives or even to emergency services if needed. The high-tech walking stick was shown at the Mobile World Congress conference in Barcelona.
What’s the Big Idea?
Although the New Generation Cane is the latest in a series of devices designed by the company to accommodate Japan’s aging population, Fujitsu says the basic technology can be used by anyone with mobility difficulties, as well as by hikers. Unfortunately the cane is still very much in the concept stage; no details were offered on when or if it will arrive on the market.
Software company Opower teams with utilities to provide customers with reports showing how well they're doing compared to their neighbors. These and other small nudges have worked to reduce costs as well as environmental impacts.