Brian Higgins the founder of Intellisight is a blind rehabilitation specialist at the Veteran’s Administration Health Care System at Palo Alto, California. Earlier he was a photographer with his own studio for more than 25 years.
He has been developing this concept for the past ten years, and started the organization as a research endeavor, but now is moving toward the building of a unit which utilizes sensors, GPS, infra-red sensors, Lidar Radar and other similar technology.
After moving to Silicon Valley ten years ago Brian started the research organization, Intellisight. While the premise is outside the normal realm of thinking he thought it important to explore since he was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa in 1978.
Having a successful photography business for 25 years, Brian proceeded to ignore the eye disease. In 1993 he had to give up his driver’s license. He then began to research all forms of alternative transportation. A number of years ago a colleague gave him an interesting article written in 1991 about a van called Alvinn created by Carneige Mellon East, a large autonomous van filled with computers that moved at a snail’s pace. He was both fascinated and hooked on the idea. He has been following this innovation ever since and watching the power of computing increase year after year. In the early days of his blindness he worked with a Mowatt Sensor, Trekker and Mini Guide. Brian started riding his bike with two ultrasonic sensors and the Trekker GPS.
He has worked with an Australian developer who has provided him with several variations of the Miniguide. As a Blind Rehab Specialist at the VA, Brian works on his electronic version of seeing sensors, supervises the use of adaptive devises, and teaches the use of computers to blind Veterans using voice.
He has joined a robotics organization at Carnegie Mellon West at NASA’s and Google in Mountain View and bikes to work every day collecting data for this concept; collecting information, like how to deal with side roads, road objects, traffic lights, curbs, holes, stationary objects and moving objects. The basic concept is clear path navigation and obstacle avoidance. In his research he is exploring the constraints and parameters of this concept which has now migrated to replacing the guide dog with a sensor rich computerized clear path navigational device or robot.
Intellisight has given inspiration and hope!