Bonnie Cha

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Fujitsu Steps Out With GPS Cane Concept

It’s not only about smartphones and tablets at Mobile World Congress. There are robots, too, and augmented-reality glasses and cane technology. Yes, cane technology.

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Fujitsu unveiled its concept for a next-generation cane this week in Barcelona. Designed primarily for senior citizens, the walking stick has integrated GPS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and 3G connectivity, and features an LCD display built into the handle to help guide you on your walk.

The idea is for the user to plan a route in advance using a desktop program, which then sends directions to the cane. Once outside, the screen tells you which direction to walk by displaying large green arrows. The handle also vibrates whenever you need to make a turn.

The cane, which is simply called New Generation Cane, can also collect information. It keeps track of how many times the cane is tapped on the ground. It can measure heart rate via a built-in thumbpad on the handle. There are also sensors that measure temperature and humidity.

This data, as well as your location, can then be wirelessly sent to a family member, so they can keep tabs on where you are or whether you need help.

Fujitsu said the cane was built with the elderly in mind, but could also be used by hikers and people with disabilities.

The New Generation Cane is just a concept for now. But the company said the device has received great interest and response from attendees at Mobile World Congress, so it’s going to work to bring it to market sooner rather than later.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik