Haptic GPS Sneakers For The Visually Impaired

gps_haptic_shoe

The world can be a pretty difficult place to navigate when you lack the ability to see it. There are many visually impaired people across the globe, with some figures claiming up to 40 million individuals affected. While walking canes and seeing-eye dogs can be a huge help, [Anirudh] of Multimodal Interactions Group, HP Labs India, and some students at the College of Engineering in Pune, India (COEP) have been hard at work constructing a haptic navigation system for the blind.

[Anirudh Sharma and Dushyant Mehta] debuted their haptic feedback shoe design during an MIT Media Lab Workshop hosted at COEP. In its current form, Google Maps and GPS data is sourced from an Android device, which is fed to an Arduino via Bluetooth. The Arduino then activates one of four LEDs mounted on a shoe insert that are used to indicate which direction the individual should travel in order to safely reach their destination. While the current iteration uses LEDs, they will be swapped out for small vibrating motors in the final build.

We’re always fans of assistive technology hacks, and we think this one is great. The concept works well, as we have seen before, so it’s just a matter of getting this project refined and in the hands shoes of those who need it.

Stick around for a quick video about the project filmed at the MIT/COEP event.

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Cell Phone Shoe

Sometimes you absolutely need to keep your phone a secret. You know, like when you’re on spy missions. The goons at the door will always frisk you, but they never check under your shoe, right? [mikeyberman] shows us how to make our own Maxwell Smart style shoe phone. All you need is to dig a giant hole in your shoe sole and cram a cell phone in there. Will it get ruined by water? Probably. Will you look like a goon trying to talk on it? Definitely. Can you make it through airport security? Try it and let us know.

Hydroelectric Power In Your Shoes

All comments on style aside, these are pretty cool. They are power generating shoes, that use water and a small turbine. As you step down, the water is forced through the turbine and recirculated back to the reservoir when you lift your foot. It may not change the world, but is definitely interesting. This reminds us of those shoes that we used to pump up til they burst.