Moscow - MT - A passion for invention came to Pavel Kurbatsky early, when he was a boy of seven or eight.

While his classmates spent their free time playing football and other games, he made mechanical toys and did not leave his soldering iron for a moment.

His first real invention, at the age of nine, was a thermometer for visually impaired people. It vibrated several times to show the body temperature, making it easy for people with poor eyesight to measure their temperatures.  Then Kurbatsky looked for ways that technology could be used to help the hearing impaired.

Now Kurbatsky, 18, a first-year student at Moscow’s Bauman State University, is creating something of a furor in innovative circles with his most recent invention: a walking cane and “talking” dark glasses that help blind people navigate unknown environments.

Asked why he started inventing tools for disabled people, Kurbatsky initially shrugged.

“I saw that blind or deaf people are the same as us but they have a hard time moving around and living in an environment that is badly designed for them,” Kurbatsky, a gangly, solemn teen, said in an interview in his dorm room at Bauman State University. “I decided that I could help them in some way.”

Pressed further, he recalled that as a young boy he worked as a volunteer in a care home for disabled children. He saw many children with various health problems and decided that some day he might be able to make tools to ease their lives.

At first sight, the walking cane and talking glasses do not look out of the ordinary. But the cane contains sensors that can trace obstacles at three levels: the head, waist and feet. When a blind person approaches an obstacle, he or she gets a signal that something is nearby. A recorded voice tells how many steps ahead is the obstacle. The voice comes from earphones built in the glasses.