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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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The ADT Pulse monitoring service starts at $28. 99 per month and requires a three year contract, but you also have to figure in the cost of things like hardware components, cellular backup, and installation. When we reviewed the Pulse system, our upfront cost was more than $3,000, with a monthly fee of over $60. Some vendors, such as LifeShield, will let you buy the components outright or lease them. For example, LifeShield's Security Essentials system will cost you $29. 99 per month for three years and includes monitoring, but you'll pay a $99 activation fee and you don't own the equipment at the end of the lease. Or, you can pay $299. 99 upfront for the hardware and still get monitoring but avoid the activation fee. If you live in a small apartment and want to keep tabs on things when you're not home, a security camera can get the job done for a lot less money than what you'll pay for a full security system. Nearly all standalone security cameras connect to your home's Wi Fi so you can see what's going on from your phone or tablet, and most have built in sensors that detect motion and sound and will send push and email notifications when those sensors are triggered. You can usually tweak the camera's motion sensitivity to prevent false alarms due to pet activity or passing cars if the camera is near a window, and you can create a schedule that turns the sensors on and off during certain hours of the day.