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m. ET DETROIT AP A cane equipped with the technology that retailers use totag merchandise could help blind people avoid obstacles. An engineering professor and five students at Central Michigan Universityhave created a ''Smart Cane'' to read electronic navigational tagsinstalledbetween buildings to aid the blind in reaching their destinations moreeasily. ''This project started as a way for me to teach students to see andunderstand the ways that engineering can be used for the greater good,''said Kumar Yelamarthi, the professor and project leader. ''We wanted to dosomething that would help people and make our campus more accessible. '' During the spring term, Yelamarthi and five senior engineering studentstested the cane, which is equipped with Radio Frequency Identificationtechnology, similar to what retailers put on products to keep them frombeing stolen. The Smart Cane contains an ultrasonic sensor that is paired with aminiaturenavigational system inside a messenger style bag worn across the shoulder. For the test, the students installed identification tags between twobuildings on the campus in Mount Pleasant, Mich. A speaker located on thebag strap gave audio alerts when the system detected an obstacle and toldthe user which direction to move. Students wearing glasses that simulate visual impairment tested the cane. The students also created a vibrating glove to assist those who are bothvisually and hearing impaired.

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Devices will begin shipping to U. S. customers on May 22, with availability for customers in Canada coming later this summer. Blink XT2 will also be available for purchase at Best Buy stores and on BestBuy. com in the U. S. Fire Administration, in just thirty seconds a small flame can turn in to a full blown fire. In just minutes of a fire breaking out, the home will be filled with thick black smoke that makes it impossible for family members to breathe. These two facts alone are enough to reinforce the importance of having a home security system that will signal authorities to respond to a house fire. Time is the biggest factor in any emergency, but in the case of fire, time is of the essence. A few seconds of a fire safety concern could mean death or the complete destruction of a home and all of its contents.