Anirudh Sharma is an Information Technology Engineer in India that has developed a haptic feedback shoe known as Le Chal (translated to “Take Along” in Hindi) to try and help the almost 300 million sufferers of visual impairment across the globe.
The Le Chal system (now being developed by Ducere Technologies) enhances users navigations skills by pairing a smartphone app (via bluetooth) to a small actuator that is placed inside the sole of the shoes. The user can enter their desired destination using the phones voice commands which then fetches the local map of the area and guides the user to their destination using a combination of the phone’s GPS system and special vibrations sent to the shoes actuator. (A vibration on the front signals to keep going straight, a vibration on the left means turn left, and the intensity of the vibrations will increase as the user nears their destination)
The shoes can add additional aid to the user via a proximity sensor built-in the tip of the shoe that acts as a obstacle-detection device by bouncing sounds off of oncoming barriers and translating those back to the shoes from up to 3 meters away.
More details on the project can be found at:http://www.duceretech.com, on Anirudh's personal site or by watching his TEDx presentation on the technology and vision behind the design below.
- Anirudh was named a MIT TR35 Innovator of the year for the idea
- Prototype uses Bluetooth with a LilyPad Arduino circuit board and Google Navigation
- The team hopes to get the shoes price point down to Rs. 1000 ($20 USD) and distribute them across the globe