These days, finding your way when you’re lost during a commute is as simple as whipping out your smartphone, tapping an app, and reading directions. Simple enough. Thing is, it’s a little more complicated when you’re visually impaired.
To help visually impaired pedestrians find an easier way around urban areas, Ashirase—a venture that originated from Honda’s Ignition new business creation program—is developing an in-shoe navigation system to support them during commutes.
The concept is actually pretty simple. Small devices that vibrate and come equipped with motion sensors and electronic compasses are hooked up to each shoe. These will then pair to a user’s smartphone, and will vibrate depending on which direction a user must walk to follow a route set within a smartphone app—the left shoe vibrates to turn left, the right shoe vibrates to turn right.
Ashirase says that the navigation system’s algorithm “enables intuitive understanding of the route,” allowing visually impaired users to move around without having to be constantly mindful of direction. This, the company says, “makes it possible for the user to walk more safely and with a more relaxed state of mind.”
“An accident suffered by one of my family members motivated me to take action to realize safer and more free mobility for visually impaired people,” Wataru Chino, Ashirase director, shared in a statement.
“I am sure that we will face many obstacles as we work toward the market launch of Ashirase; however, we will overcome such obstacles one by one and devote ourselves wholeheartedly to realize the freedom of mobility for visually impaired people.”
Frankly, this is a very straightforward idea that could go a long way in making cities more convenient for the visually impaired. We can see something like this working here in the Philippines—provided we can fix our pedestrian crossings and sidewalks, of course.
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