ATLANTA – A guide dog who lost his life protecting his owner is being remembered in a hi-tech way that will help the vision impaired.
In 2013, Simon the guide dog was struck by a car while trying to protect David Furukawa and his son. Simon didn’t survive, but his act of heroism inspired Furukawa to do something in his memory.
The result is Foresight Augmented Reality, a smartphone app that uses Bluetooth technology to guide the seeing impaired to their destination.
Often, Furukawa uses GPS and his new guide dog Samson to lead him. But while Sampson can keep his owner out of traffic or from running into a pole, he can’t lead his owner directly to a front door.
“He (Sampson) can’t take me to the bar, or take me to this store or that store,” says Furukawa. “GPS might put you 50-feet from where your destination is. I need to be able to find exactly where the door is.”
While recovering from the accident that took Simon, Furukawa was hit with inspiration. He and a friend developed FAR, Foresight Augmented Reality. Beacons placed in a handful of stores and restaurants around Atlanta emit a signal. When Furukawa is in range, the app lets him know.
“As you approach the beacon, it will go faster and faster,” says Furukawa.
It leads him right to the front door, or the bathroom door, wherever there is a beacon. The app is free. There is a small fee for businesses willing to install the beacons.
“To be able to market and say we’re here for the entire community including the visually impaired, that’s a big selling point,” says Chis Webb, who has partnered with Furukawa on the project.
Once inside this Taco Mac in Virginia-Highland, the app can read Furukawa the menu.
Furukawa and others are hoping for entire communities that are filled with beacons, and beeps.
and help for loyal guide dogs like Samson.
All in memory of a hero named Simon.
For information on the app, visit the website: http://foresightar.com/#aboutfar