Dr. Cang Ye Receives NIH Grant to Develop Wearable Robotic Device for the Blind

Dr. Cang Ye


Dr. Cang Ye

According to the American Foundation for the Blind, around 25 million Americans live with significant vision loss. Dr. Cang Ye, a professor in the department of Systems Engineering, aims to make these individuals’ lives easier with the results of his upcoming research, funded by a nearly $1 million grant from the National Institutes of Health.

The $820,263, three-year grant will enable Dr. Ye, his team of postdoctoral, graduate, and undergraduate students, and his research collaborator Dr. Yantao Shen at the University of Nevada, Reno to develop a Wearable Robotic Object Manipulation Aid (W-ROMA) for the visually impaired. Equipped with a camera, the device detects objects that the wearer needs to move or use, then guides him or her to take hold of them.

The proposed device, worn on the user’s hand, should make it easier for visually impaired people to both remove obstacles, such as a chair in their path, and perform essential tasks, such as finding a door handle. It will be able to communicate about the location, shape, and size of objects with the wearer in a meaningful yet unobtrusive way. As a result, the visually impaired wearer will be able to live more independently and safely.

Dr. Ye and his team will develop the technology behind the device, design the device, and test its usability. An expert in computer vision and robot navigation, Dr. Ye already has experience in both developing robotic technology and creating assistive devices for the visually impaired.

Not only will it potentially improve the lives of visually impaired individuals, but the project will also give the UALR undergraduate and graduate students working on it the opportunity to receive rigorous scientific training in robotics, biomedical engineering, and more.

Additionally, by collaborating with UALR’s summer research programs, Dr. Ye and his team will use their ongoing research as a recruitment tool for high school students.


*Research reported in this press release was supported by the National Eye Institute of the National Institutes of Health under award number R01EY026275.

*Disclaimer: “The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.”

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