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Thursday, November 03, 2011

Vibrating shoes for the sight impaired

An IT Engineer from Rajasthan Technical University has developed a system that offers non-obtrusive navigation for the visually impaired. Anirudh Sharma developed the Le Chal (Hindi for ‘Take me there’) system after his grandfather was diagnosed with diabetes. His system essentially converts navigation data into haptic feedback and can be manufactured relatively cheaply The system is contained unobtrusively within a pair of shoes, one of which is fitted with vibrators, proximity sensors and a Bluetooth pad connected to an Android phone. The phone with a built-in GPS and compass module calculates directions and real time location using Google Maps. To use the person speaks the final destination before the start of their journey and the Android app formulates the route, calculating turn by turn directions which are sent to the shoe wirelessly via Bluetooth. Depending on the directions or GPS coordinates and compass, different vibrators within the shoe placed at different positions, are activated to offer feedback to the user. The vibrators also use feedback from proximity sensors, which detects physical obstructions up to a range of 10 feet. As vibration intensity increases the person is getting near tho their destination. The shoes have been piloted at a Bangalore based blind-school. Although still a prototype, vibrating shoes do look like a valuable asset to the sight impaired .

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