Wi-Fi haptic ‘Le-Chal’ shoes to guide the blind navigate city streets now

A new device for the blind not to hold in hand but inserted into their shoe was made by an Indian engineer from Hewlett-Packard Lab in Bangalore aptly named “Le Chal“, which means “Take me there” in Hindi.

Anirudh Sharma’s Le Chal shoes help the blind to navigate city streets, especially those beset with potholes at every corner or even in the middle of a footpath. These haptic (touch) shoes send vibrations inside the shoe to the holder about the impending obstacle on the road.

The shoe was featured in MIT Review in August 2011. It has four mini-motors which vibrates when ditches or potholes are on the way and it is GPS-synchornized with Google Maps so that the person can follow the route easily. When it vibrates on the left side of the palm, he takes the turn accordingly and the intensity of vibration shows the distance where he or she has to take a turn.

Aided with a Le Chal Android app on a smartphone, the blind gives commands orally on the destination, which is relayed by a bluetooth with Lilypad Arduino circuit board, which takes care of the navigation.

The prototype, priced $20, will be given to 20 persons from a Bangalore blind school on a pilot basis before launching it commercially. “We intend doing about 20 shoes (priced at Rs 1,000 or $20 USD a piece) and distribute them to the visually challenged. After the feedback, we will make all the improvements suggested by the user group before going for future plans,” Anirudh Sharma told the local media.

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