Posts Tagged ‘visually impaired’

Arduino Lilypad powered shooes for the visually impaired

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

Anirudh Sharma, an IT Engineer from Rajasthan Technical University has developed a system that offers non-obtrusive navigation for the visually impaired . Calling it Le Chal (Hindi for ‘Take me there’), Sharma conceptualized and demonstrated the system at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) Media Lab Design and Innovation Workshop 2011.

The Le Chal system comprises of a pair of shoes, one of which is fitted with Vibrators, proximity sensors and a Bluetooth pad which is connected to an Android phone that calculates directions and real time location using Google Maps and the phone’s built-in GPS and compass module.

How It Works

The user simply needs to speak the final destination before the start of his 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 depending on the turn he/she needs to take. So essentially, the system converts navigation data into haptic feedback.

The vibrators also take into account feedback from proximity sensors, which detects physical obstructions upto a range of 10 feet. The intensity of the vibrations differ depending upon the proximity from the destination. For example, in the beginning of the journey the feedback is weaker, while as the user reaches closer to the destination the strength of the feedback increases.

According to Sharma, voice instructions can be distracting and wearable gear is obtrusive and attracts unnecessary attention. He says that the system has been designed to make it non obtrusive for the users. The shoes have been tested at a Bangalore based Blind-school. He intends to make 20 such pairs and distribute them to the visually impaired. He also wants to make the supporting app open source and publish a Do It Yourself guide on Wikipedia where other users and developers could participate and help in developing a better version. As per his presentation, the system costs barely a few hundred rupees to assemble with 8 mini vibrational motors costing Rs 90, a sole of specified dimensions, an Arduino Lilypad GSM+GPS shield custom made for Rs 400 or a wired version costing Rs 150 for all the components.

The Tacit Project: An Arduino-based sonar feedback device for the blind

Saturday, August 20th, 2011

Steve Hoefer from Grathio Labs has developed the Tacit project, basically an assistance device for sonar obstacle avoidance with haptic feedback. The device can measure the distance to objects and translate that into pressure on the wrist. It is based on our favorite Arduino Mini Pro.

According to Steve, it’s wrist mounted and senses objects from about 1 inch (2 cm) to 10 feet (3.5m).  It has generally fast response time (fractions of a second) to quickly navigate complex environments. It’s designed to help a vision impaired person to navigate complex environments.  Mounted to the back of the hand, the force feedback means it doesn’t interfere with other assistance devices that mount elsewhere and use audio feedback cues.

Steve shares in his post all the information on how to build it (parts and schematics) and the Arduino code as well. Great work and beautiful design Steve!

Check also the video for a short live demo of the prototype:


Haptic Assisted Locating of Obstacles – H.A.L.O. using Arduino :-)

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

Polymythic had the idea to develop a haptic feedback device for the visually impaired (Project H.A.L.O. as he has named it), that uses a series of rangefinders that would take input from sensors and output feedback to pulse vibration motors placed on a person’s head. As a person gets closer to an object the intensity and frequency of the vibration would increase – it’s directly proportional to the distance of an object. If a region was lacking feedback, then it would be safe to proceed in that direction.


The main microcontroller for receiving the sensor feedback and generating the vibrations is Arduino Mega 2560.

More information and build instructions here!