Bluetooth Shoes Provide Help for Blind
This tech much more useful, less annoying than headsets.
Web2Carz Contributing Writer
Published: July 16th, 2012
n terms of blindness and the tools to assist people who live with blindness, there hasn't been much in the way of astonishing technological breakthroughs in a long time. But now, 24-year-old computer engineer Anirudh Sharma is looking to change that with an invention he calles "Le Chal"—which means "take me along" in Hindi. The product? Bluetooth-enabled shoes.
The product pairs a smartphone app with a chip sewn inside the user's shoe, and when the user tells the phone a desired destination, the chip works with the phone's GPS system to track the person's location in real time, then telling the actuator in the shoe when to vibrate. Vibrations indicate it's time for the user to turn, and which side of the shoe the vibration is on indicates which way.
Lawrence says one challenge is getting the shoes to recognize the difference between things like an uncovered manhole and a flight of stairs.
Thankfully, the system doesn't require constant internet use (which is good news especially for those of us who struggle with AT&T, right?), and maps can be stored locally and combined with GPS data.
The footwear is currently being tested at the L.V. Prasad Eye Institute, which is one of India's biggest eye-health facilities, and is safest (for now, at least) in areas with little or no traffic, like parks or residential streets. Sharma's business partner, Krispian Lawrence, says that the challenge is getting the shoes to recognize differences like an uncovered manhole versus a flight of stairs, but he says that he thinks they'll be able to do it eventually. Dealing with moving objects, like cars, may take longer, too, as the shoes will have to not only register the cars' presence, but their speed as well.
Fashion technologists are also working with the men on ergonomics and design to ensure the finished product looks like a pair of regular shoes, and the especially good news is that the pair say the shoes shouldn't cost more than an ordinary pair.