I started Lechal as a DIY project in 2010. After 5 years Le-chal has evolved as a full-fledged lifestyle product now.
Lechal was started in 2010 with a simple sketch and an Arduino lilypad prototype. This made me quit my job at HP Labs, which HP mentioned.
After 6 months of initial demos, Krispian and I decided to pursue Lechal further as a product We were introduced to each other magically by a visually impaired person.
Lechal was started as a navigation aid for the visually impaired. 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.
Lechal initial prototypes and design got the MIT TR35 Award.
The unobtrusive design of LeChal 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.