Birmingham City University researchers have created a mobility cane that links to a visually impaired user's smartphone to provide facial recognition capabilities.Called the “XploR”, the cane could be used to recognise family or friends for the blind up to 30 feet away. It then vibrates if there is match to let the user know.Students Steve Adigbo, Waheed Rafiq and Richard Howlett, have been showing the cane at medical conference since developing the cane, which also features GPS functionality to aid navigation.Steve told the Birmingham City University news: “My grandfather is blind and I know how useful this device could be for him. The smart cane incorporates facial recognition technology to alert the user when they are approaching a relative or friend. There's nothing else out there like this at the moment.””Medical and healthcare companies in France really liked the product. Hopefully it'll be making a real difference to people's lives soon,” said Waheed.The students used market research at the Beacon Centre for the Blind in Wolverhampton, West Midlands, to determine key features that the visually impaired would find useful in a mobility cane.”We found that high-spec technology features were essential requirements for users, as well as the cane needing to be fairly lightweight and easy to use,” said Waheed.”We'll be returning to the Beacon Centre later this year for people to test the product and also to highlight the training and security features of the cane.”