Smart Shoes Lead the Way for the Blind
The days of burying one's nose in a phone trying to decipher directions could be over.
Indian wearable tech startup Ducere Tech has created smart shoes called Lechal that can give the wearer directions without needing to look at a smartphone. Lechal translates as "take me there" in Hindi.
The user enters her destination into the Lechal app using Google Maps or a similar navigation app. From this point on, the company claims, she no longer needs to look at her phone. The app connects via Bluetooth to a module that slides into the back of the shoe. The right or left shoe then buzzes depending on which direction the user should turn.
"The white cane, while an effective aid, falls short with respect to navigation, directions and orientation," the two creators told an Indian lifestyle magazine. "Moreover, current assistive devices rely primarily on providing audio feedback. People who are visually challenged rely heavily on their sense of hearing to acquaint themselves with the environment and may find audio feedback a major distraction. People who are visually challenged rely heavily on their sense of hearing to acquaint themselves with the environment and may find audio feedback a major distraction."
In addition to providing directions, the shoes also track steps taken and calories burned. For those who don't want to give up their favorite pair of sneakers, the same technology is available in an insole platform.
The shoes are available in red or black and will retail for $100 to $150, based on whether the customer is ordering the shoes or the insoles. For that price, users get the footwear, the app and a charger. The app is compatible with Android, iOS and Windows operating systems. The entire package can be preordered on the product's website, the first batch shipped out in March.