Category: Orientation and Mobility

Le Chal System

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-- PROTOTYPE --------- PURPOSE: To create a prototype of a navigational device similar to a white cane in the form of footwear (i.e. shoes) to assist individuals who are blind or have low vision in navigating to a specific geographic location. Anirudh Sharma, a young researcher at Hewlett-Packard Labs in Bangalore, India designed this prototype system entitled "Le Chal," which is Hindi for "Take Me There." The Le Chal system is designed to assist users in navigating when walking to specific geographic locations so that he or she avoids walking into objects on the way. The system is a combination of haptic feedback footwear via a LilyPad Arduino circuit board located in the heel of each shoe, an Android smartphone application, Bluetooth technology, and Google Maps with GPS technologies. The user begins by entering their destination on Google Maps, using the Le Chal application running on an Android smartphone. Following the Google Maps turn-by-turn directions, along with locational data from its own GPS unit, the phone communicates with circuit board to activate the shoe's haptic cues. The shoes provide haptic feedback, guiding the user toward their destination by vibrating in the front, back, or on either side. A vibration on the front indicates that the user should keep going straight; a vibration on the left side means that he or she should turn left; etc. The vibrations begin low, but build in intensity as the user nears points where he or she should change direction. Additionally, a proximity sensor in the front of the shoe alerts the user to obstacles, which it can detect from up to ten feet (three meters) away. There is currently no information on Le Chal being marketed in the near future; however, Sharma is anticipating releasing the code for the application and the schematics for the shoe, via the Arduino community. Moreover, a Do-It-Yourself guide may be released via Wikipedia, which will allow users to update with their own improvements to the system. AUTHOR: Ben Coxworth. TITLE: Haptic shoe could replace the white cane. WEBSITE: Gizmag. REF:


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Le Chal System