The good old White cane might finally get a modern competitor which could make the lives of the visually impaired easier.
Ducere Technologies, a Telangana based startup has developed footwear with Haptic feedback to help the wearer navigate better.
LeChal, the interactive footwear, syncs with a smartphone over bluetooth to do this. The wearer tells the destination to the Android phone which figures out the best possible route to the destination. The shoe vibrates at every turn and twist so that the wearer knows which way to head. For instance to make a right turn, the right shoe will vibrate to indicate that the person should take a turn.
All the necessary electronics are located at the heel in the sole. All of that electronics has been fitted into a small module that can be easily removed. Each module has a weight threshold of 500 grams. The rest of the insole can be replaced as they get worn out. Each module comes with a rechargeable battery that has reversible contacts. The shoe has a flap near the rear cuff where the battery is slid in. The charger has an inbuilt clapper which when activated beeps in a certain pattern to indicate the level of charge. The haptic feedback module is located in the heel of the shoe.
A lot of study has gone into how haptics can in turn help the impaired folks, with the core team studying the commuting patterns of two visually impaired businessmen from Bangalore. The ingeniousness lies in the simplicity of the idea.
LeChal footwear counts steps and tracks the calories burnt by the individual. It is through the app that user can set goals; create custom workout sessions and much more. It allows tagging locations, setting destinations, start/stop/pause navigation and much more, all by executing simple foot gestures. The mechanism is made so intelligent that when a new route is pulled up you’ll be alerted if there is enough charge for the trip to begin with and dials an already stored emergency number when it detects persons fall. The price of the footwear is around $100 while the replaceable portion is available at a measly $10.
LeChal was founded by Krispian Lawrence and Anirudh Sharma, Graduates from MIT and the University of Michigan, in 2011.