By Anna Rita de Bonnis

In this article I want to tell you about Gillo, an electronic obstacle and person detection device for the blind and partially sighted people.

Its creator is the Italian Andrea Masi, who we had the pleasure to have as a guest online at the training course last November.

What is Gillo?

Gillo, as already mentioned, is an electronic device designed for visually impaired people which, through the use of Sonar sensors, can detect obstacles (things or people) and signal them to the person.

Description of the device

Gillo is a very simple device, both aesthetically and in terms of use. It is lightweight, made of plastic, has a rectangular shape, but the lower part is rounded, and is attached to a comfortable necklace, equipped with an adjustment buckle and an anti-suffocation hook. In order to use it, Gillo must be worn around the neck.

Holding the device with its rounded sides at the bottom, on the top is the ring in which the necklace is attached, and on the right and left sides are two selectors, i.e. two adjustable click levers, which are used to set the obstacle detection distance (1m, 1.40m or 4m) and the vibration or sound intensity mode respectively. On the right side there is also the connector for battery charging and the speaker hole for sound reproduction.

On the upper side there are two holes, one underneath the other, in which the sensors are inserted. On the back, however, there is the power button, which is easily recognisable as it is large, round and easily identifiable, thanks to the knurling.

How it works

As already mentioned, Gillo is worn around the neck, taking care to keep the two holes containing the sensors uncovered, otherwise obstacles cannot be detected.

The device is able to detect obstacles that are at head height, up to the sternum; it is not able to detect obstacles that are on the ground, nor steps, nor unevenness of the ground. In fact, as Mr. Masi has repeatedly stressed, Gillo is not intended to be a substitute for the white cane, which is and remains an indispensable tool for people with visual impairments. Gillo is therefore an additional aid and should always be used together with the white cane.

When an obstacle is detected, Gillo will emit a high or low-pitched sound or vibration, depending on how it is set at that moment, and the closer you get to the obstacle, the closer the vibration or sound will be.

In addition to the usefulness of signalling obstacles, Gillo can be very useful in this time of pandemic because, as unfortunately we all know, it is essential to keep a distance between people and, for the visually impaired, this can be a problem, since you can’t always tell how far away you are from the other person. With Gillo, however, this will no longer be a problem as it will tell us if we get too close to a person, or if a person gets too close to us.

Gillo, as already mentioned, has been designed for blind and partially sighted people, but it is also useful for elders who, due to their age, have vision problems.

This article is in no way intended to be an exhaustive explanation of the product, but has been written purely for information and dissemination purposes.

If you think this device might be right for you, or if you are simply curious and want to try Gillo for yourself, you can contact Mr Masi directly by writing to him at:

Check also the Gillo Facebook page. The information is  in Italian.

Categories: Non classé