Visiontif Sets its Sight on Helping the Visually Impaired Navigate the World

Nov 22, 2023

Visiontif is on a mission to help people living with visual impairments independently navigate the world. The Visiontif team is creating a wearable device that uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technologies to describe objects, signs, and other elements around the user.

Chun Yu, founder and CEO of Visiontif, was inspired by his uncle's lifetime struggle living with a visual impairment. He said existing AI-powered glasses on the market were not designed with visually-impaired users in mind.

“My uncle became blind and every day was a battle for him. It was painful to watch. Through him and supporting him, I have a lot of people living with being blind. Going inside a building is difficult. Things like finding the door and knowing whether it’s push or pull to open are challenges—and there is no solution on the market to solve it,” Yu said.

People with normal vision often have difficulty understanding those challenges. Yu said something as simple as finding the right washroom door is impossible for someone with a severe visual impairment.

The Visiontif wearable device is a screen reader for the real world. It uses a combination of optical character recognition and computer vision to tell the user what is around them, and what is on a sign, such as a bathroom door gender indicator. He added that the primary user for the device is someone born with vision or partial vision who loses that over time.

“We have great programs in Canada for people who are born blind, but there is a different user mentality for those who lose their vision. These people were able to navigate by themselves and now struggle to do something as simple as figure out which door to use,” Yu said.

The most common way for people with visual impairments to navigate outside is through the use of guide canes and raised tactile indicators at intersections. Yu said these technologies are over 100 years old, and there hasn’t been much progress made with alternative solutions. Visiontif is currently testing a beta version of the wearable device as they work towards bringing it to market.

Locating in Markham has provided Yu and the Visiontif team with the support and expertise to bring their product to life. Visiontif was accepted into the fourth cohort of the ventureLab Hardware Catalyst Initiative in August 2022, and Yu said the program has been invaluable.

“I’m an engineer by trade, so being in ventureLab has opened my mind to how to run a business. They’re also helping us to file patents for our intellectual property—it’s been a fantastic opportunity with Venture Lab,” Yu said.

The proximity to ventureLab and other ecosystem partners is just one of the advantages of being in Markham. Yu said that, unlike Toronto, they don’t have far to drive to get the help they need.

“We can go to Centennial College or Seneca College for help—they’re only a 20-minute drive and you don't need to worry about traffic jams,” Yu said.

To learn more about Visiontif, visit