The Henry Ford Innovation Project

Innovator: Sidharth


Sidharth Anantha, a high school student at Lexington High School in Lexington, Massachusetts, considers himself many things.

He’s a violinist, engineer, robotics tutor, mentor, entrepreneur, inventor. He’s also a highly attuned “observationist” and a humanitarian hyper aware of the economic and health care challenges of developing countries, including his birthplace, India. In 2016, he had been mulling over an idea to create a high-tech, low-cost, easy-to-use solution for helping the blind navigate their surroundings — a direct response to a stat that troubled him. “Ninety percent of the world’s blind live in developing countries,” said Anantha. “Health care in India, for example, is not as developed as it is in the U.S. Many people, including the blind, don’t get or can’t afford the care they need.”

While waiting for takeoff on a commercial flight, Anantha noticed a blind woman tapping her support cane to count the rows to her seat. From this simple observation bloomed the formal trappings of an ingenious hands-free solution that Anantha now calls Seeing for the Blind. It combines sonar with an Arduino processor in a small device that can be easily attached to glasses or shoes to provide auditory and/or haptic obstacle distance awareness for those with significant vision impairments. “A lack of sight makes it hard to navigate and know where you are in relation to objects,” said Anantha. “My invention solves this problem by using echolocation to give the blind an awareness of their surroundings and create a sense of navigation.”

Anantha’s enthusiasm, research and smart applications of science and good sense helped him win big at the 2017 National Invention Convention and Entrepreneurship Expo in Virginia. In 2018, he returned to the Invention Convention, held in Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation, with a more refined Seeing for the Blind product. It garnered him, among other accolades, The Henry Ford’s Model I Youth Innovator Award. Anantha is currently in the throes of the patent application process for his invention. And he’s not done with it yet. His “what’s next” for Seeing for the Blind is to perfect the device’s ability not only to tell the blind that something is near or in front of them but what that something actually is.

“I want to have a meaningful effect on the world,” said Anantha, who wants to become an aerospace engineer and design jets that run on clean electricity, as well as establish his own foundation to help train next-generation inventors. “I want to build things and become the Tesla of aviation. Airplanes have always been my obsession.”



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