A shoe that guides the Blind

Innate Haptic shoe for the blind developed to do away with walking canes

A hand out to someone is on any day way better than closing two hands in prayer, and that is exactly what some brilliant mind out there are determined to inculcate into their lives. Anirudh Sharma a young researcher at Hewlett-Packard Labs in Bangalore, India is one such individual who invested his time and mind into developing and all new system for the blind that will allow them to do away with walking stick. The idea for a haptic shoe that guides its blind owner through the city and every nook and corner of the surrounding areas propped up at the Design and Innovation workshop (organized by MIT)in Pune, Maharashtra that took place from 24-28 January.

Called very aptly as “Le Chal” meaning “Take Me” the shoe is fitted with a system that has vibrators at each end of the shoe to indicate direction. For example according to the input from the GPS system via Bluetooth communication the shoe makes vibration in the front, back, left side or right side to indicate the desired direction to move.

This is a very viable solution as compared to some other systems like voice-based navigation systems that can be complex and distracting, not to mention the hefty price tags they carry which can be very expensive for most people. But with the Le Chal shoe all these anomalies are out of the window in one go. The only thing needed to properly operate the navigation system in the shoe is mobile phone with GPS capabilities, so that the user can input the destination via the app specially designed for this mechanism.

The app operates via Google maps, updating the information in real time using the GPS transmitter in the phone. The vibration in the shoe corresponding to the data fed from the information is stronger if the user is close to the destination and weaker if they are not yet there. To calculate the distance of nearby objects there is also a proximity sensor so that the user doesn’t bum into roadblocks, other people or moving vehicles. You can imagine the selflessness of the guy who made this system by the fact that he has plans on releasing the make method of the haptic shoe in a DIY guide, with no intends of making money from it.

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