Friday, 6 January 2017

No need to pay attention to traffic anymore: smartphone user gets guide dog

Lübeck (dpo) - It’s a  nuisance familiar to many smartphone users: the inconvenience of looking up from their displays in traffic. Yet Alexander Friesenegger from Lübeck, Germany, has found a way around this problem. The clever 27-year-old decided to get a guide dog, enabling him to surf the internet, play games or video chat to his heart’s content while walking across the city.

Diego the specially trained Golden Retriever did not come cheap at €17,000 (around US$ 17,900). He has been guiding his master through the streets of Lübeck for a week now. “It was totally worth it!” assures Friesenegger via WhatsApp, as due to his dog’s guidance, he no longer has to watch cars, oncoming pedestrians or traffic lights, which in turn enables him to look at the display of his smartphone without paying attention to his surroundings at all.
Room for improvement in energy consumption
It was a traffic light, too, where this success story started, explains the law student. “I was standing at a traffic light with audio signals for the blind, when I suddenly realised that thanks to this practical device, you could easily use your smartphone without having to watch the lights. That was when I thought, ‘these blind people have really got it right!’” However, his first attempts at using a white stick failed. “That didn’t work out. You need to concentrate far too much on fumbling about, and also, you need lots of experience.” With his guide dog Diego, on the other hand, everything is working almost perfectly. There are just a few minor complaints, says Friesenegger. “The dog drools, he doesn’t connect to my headset, and without treats his run time is only a few hours”. As soon as the next generation of guide dogs arrives, Friesenegger wants to get rid of his dog for a better one.
For the time being, Friesenegger is still arguing with his health insurance company about whether they should bear the costs for the current guide dog. The health insurance company has classified the acquisition of the dog as medically unnecessary and uneconomical – an assessment with which the 27-year-old disagrees. He argues that after all, he could possibly even spare his health care provider costs: “If I walked out in front of a car without a guide dog, then that would be even more expensive for them.”
ssi, dan; inspired by: mai, fst ; Picture above and on the right: Shutterstock
Read the German version HERE.
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