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Blind runner completes 5k Central Park run without a human guide

Dec 4, 2020

Thomas Panek, a blind runner and CEO of Guiding Eyes for the Blind, gets ready for a 5K run in Central Park where he will use Google's "Guideline" app instead of help from a human or guide dog, in New York, U.S., November 19, 2020. REUTERS/Dan FastenbergReuters

We've heard his story before; 50 year old, blind runner Thomas Panek, CEO of Guiding Eyes for the Blind who began running with sighted guides, then ran the New York City half marathon with only a team of guide dogs.  But now Panek has gone one step further.  On November 19th, 2020, Thomas Panek ran a 5K in Central Park, where he used Google's "Guideline" app instead of help from a human or guide dog. 

The marathon enthusiast got tired of having to follow slower runners as a guide. So he decided a year ago to find a way to run solo. He turned to Google to find a way for a phone to "tell me where to go," said Panek, who believes "humans are born to run."

The brand new technology in production by Google is called Guideline, and uses AI capabilities and an app to help blind runners run without any assistance.  Upon completing the run, Panek said of the test run with the Guideline app was "flawless...flawless execution."

Learn more about Guideline's development and how other runners have now been able to try the prototype.  They all describe it as if they are flying stick, no furry dog.  "Freedom!"