If this hack from University of Konstanz students Michael Zöllner and Stephan Huber reaches the open market, life could get a lot simpler for the visually impaired. As part of a graduate project, this dynamic duo has developed a helmet-mounted Kinect setup that acts as eyes for visually challenged users. The Kinect is combined with a prototype, vibrotactile waist belt to digitally analyze the wearer's indoor surroundings and give audio navigation commands to guide him or her through the area [source: Zöllner and Huber]. It's very similar to the way a GPS system in your car directs you to turn left or right at the appropriate point in your journey (hopefully).
At the moment, this system also requires a slightly clunky backpack, which carries a laptop to process all of the information from the belt and the Kinect. With just a little streamlining, though, this could easily be the replacement for the white cane normally used by visually impaired people to navigate their surroundings.
Now that you've got your bearings, click forward to the next page to learn about a hack that could aid disaster rescue efforts.