New technology helps blind runners run without assistance

With new technology, and incredible determination, a blind runner crossed the finish line of a race in Central Park this week without the help of any guides.

"Flawless, flawless execution, my goodness,” said the runner, 50-year-old Thomas Panek.

On Thursday, for the first time Panek was able to run a 5K alone thanks to the New York Road Runners and brand-new technology that is currently in production by Google called "Guideline."

Google is using AI capabilities and an app that allows runners to run on a specific line, staying on course.

“We segmented the line so detecting the line , understanding where the runner is in respect to that line with that understanding we communicated by using audio we communicate to the runner if the runner needs to move to the right or to the left in order to stay on the line. We are using a pixel from any android phone to analyze the line and read it. The line is just paint any paint that you can find around you.” said Dror Ayalon, of Google Creative Lab.

Last year, Panek made headlines as the first blind person to complete the New York Road Runners United Airlines half marathon guided by a team of guide dogs.

It was then when Panek, who is the President  & CEO of Guiding Eyes for the Blind asked if there was any technology that could help the blind and visually impaired run without any assistance. What seemed impossible 12 months ago, becoming a reality in 2020.

“To able to go out there and run with this technology just being free, having my hands-free like any other runner going as fast as my legs can carry me was a feeling of freedom,” said Panek.

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