Sunday, February 16, 2014

Lechal - Haptic based interactive footwear

Krispian Lawrence and Anirudh Sharma wanted to use technology to aid the sight challenged and designed the world’s first interactive haptic (touch feedback) footwear. Le Chal Shoe (Ducere Technology ) was launched in Mumbai is a made-in-India shoe-smartphone combination navigation device that has taken wearable technology to a whole new level. The shoes guide the user towards their destination through simple vibrations. The user tells the phone his desired destination, which is translated into electronic commands using voice-recognition software. The app, which can be programmed to run in the background, fetches the local map of the area. The phone’s Global Positioning System (GPS) tracks the person’s location in real-time, telling the actuator to vibrate when it is time to turn. The side of the shoe where the vibration is felt indicates which way to go. The vibration is weak in the beginning of the journey and starts to grow stronger as the destination approaches. The app is compatible with both Android and iPhone devices and most of the operations can be performed using the volume keys. Besides the navigation, one can use the footwear for fitness and trekking too. The shoe pod is equipped with an obstacle-detection mechanism. A sensor in the tip of the shoe, devised by Lawrence, scans the vicinity using sonar, which emits ultrasounds that bounce off obstacles, indicating their presence. There is also an emergency contact option on the phone which alerts monitors if there is a problem. The shoes are currently being tested at the LV Prasad Eye Institute and the hope is Le Chal footwear will be available for pre-order from 7 March and will be sold online. The intention is for every pair of Special Edition shoes sold, one pair of Le Chal footwear will be subsidised for a visually challenged person.

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