At present people with limited or no vision depend either on walking canes, which help them detect obstructions, or seek help from friends and other people for assistance, or using voice-based navigation aids. The existing form of voice-based navigation aids can be very distracting for the blind as they mostly depend on their sense of hearing. Also, such devices are prohibitively expensive to buy.
Le-Chal is a way finding aid for the visually impaired that uses a language of vibrations, complementing their natural adaptations and extends their limitations.
The unobtrusive design of Le Chal is its most significant feature. The system comprises of a mechanism that condenses complex geographical navigational information and lets the user feel the directional and proximity information through vibrations.
- The user speaks the destination using a GPS enabled Android device. After the location is confirmed the device is kept back in pocket! No further direct interaction with the cellphone.
- The shoe and phone maintain a wireless connection.
- The GPS transmitter within the cellphone gets real-time location using Google Maps. The built-in compass in the GPS module calculates the direction user is walking in. When the turning point is approached a mild vibrational feedback activated in the shoe informs the user the direction he or she needs to turn to.
- The strength of the vibration depends upon the overall proximity from the destination, that is, vibration is weak in the beginning and is incrementally stronger at the end of the navigation task.
- The built-in proximity sensor of the shoe can detect up to 10 feet, informing the user of the surroundings and allowing him or her to make decisions and plan the next move.