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Visually impaired runner and tech giant create an app to run solo

Shared by Sara Di Fabio on 2020-03-02 15:09

About the solution

Simon Wheatcroft is an ultra-marathon runner born with a genetic degenerative eye condition, retinitis pigmentosa, and lost his sight at 17. "I started running for something to do. I used a guide dog to run outside or went running with other people," he says. To help him run solo, he developed an app, called eAscot, collaborating with IBM Bluemix.

The app eAscot, named after Simon’s guide dog, uses sensors, similar to the reversing sensors of a car, and satellite navigation to help Simon stay on course. If the person veers off to the right the app emits a high-pitched beep (and a low pitch beeps for veering to the left) that increases in frequency the further the person goes. While Simon is running, the app collects data that he can use to learn about his running.

“The important thing to get correct in the desert is more related to hydration and food. If you become dehydrated you are losing electrolytes, that’s very dangerous in the desert. For me, the technology has solved the navigation point…that’s done…so now it’s a case of putting all the other pieces together and making sure we get across the desert,” Wheatcroft said.

Adapted from: https://www.bbc.com/news/business-37174157

This solution shall not include mention to the use of drugs, chemicals or biologicals (including food); invasive devices; offensive, commercial or inherently dangerous content. This solution was not medically validated. Proceed with caution! If you have any doubts, please consult with a health professional.

About the author

Simon Wheatcroft, from the UK, lost his sight at 17 because of a genetic degenerative disease but he kept pursuing his passion for running. Simon became the first blind runner to learn to run solo outdoors. Helped by IBM Bluemix he developed an app for blind solo runners. He has been working to advocate accessibility to technology with the aim of helping myself and others.

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