Ever since the Arduino Lilypad, a smallÂ circuit boardÂ designed for wearable technology and e-textiles, was released a couple years back, some great new inventions have been coming to light, especially in the field ofÂ wearableÂ technology. One of these is a haptic shoe for the blind called Le Chal, designed by Indian Hewlett-Packard researcherÂ Anirudh Sharma.
Le Chal is Hindi for “take me there” and this is the idea behind the shoe. Le Chal is madeÂ entirely from simple and low cost materials that are readilyÂ availableÂ to almost anyone that wants them. Not only that, but the design is also simple and not at all obvious that it is a special shoe.
Currently, most people with little or no vision rely on the use of a cane or on the help of friends and family to guide them. The use of this shoe means that they will no longer need the help of friends and family, or of a cane.
The main idea behind the shoe is that it can guide the wearer from point A to point B. The way that this is done is that the user enters their destination in Google Maps on a smartphone that is running the Le Chal app, which currently needs to be an Android phone. The shoe then guides them to their destination using a series of vibrations. A vibration on the front means that they should continue foreword, a vibration on the left means that they should turn left, and so on.
Le Chal is made up of vibrators on the front, back, left and right of the shoe, each of which are connected to the Arduino Lilypad circuit board. All of these parts are located inside the shoes sole. There is also a proximity sensor located on the front of the shoe, which can detect upcoming objects and how far they are.
Le Chal is a step foreword (no pun intended) in technology designed to help people who are visuallyÂ impaired. Currently there is no word on whether or not the shoe will be marketed, however Sharma intends to release the code for the app and the schematics for the shoe itself soon, and we should start to see more inventions like this one in the near future.