Video: Haptic-feedback shoes guide blind walkers

Video: Haptic-feedback shoes guide blind walkers

Posted by: Kate Torgovnick

April 1, 2013 at 5:51 pm EDT

The footage in this video — which shows a man, a woman and a teenager walking down paths, around curves, up stairs and across streets — may not at first viewing seem remarkable. But the people in this video are blind — and walking without a cane or guide dog. Instead, they are being guided by their shoes. These shoes, which TED Senior Fellow Anthony Vipin Das introduced us to at TED2013, use haptic feedback and GPS technology to guide the blind. Each pair contains electronic circuitry, sensors and small actuators that give the wearer feedback on their movement as they walk, vibrating to tell them when to turn or lift their feet. (See Katherine Kuchenbecker’s great TED-Ed lesson to the field of haptic technology, which debuted on TED.com just last week.) They use a voice-programmed app that reads local GPS maps and plan routes. They have sensors that note obstacles and tell the wearer to stop. The shoes can also read gestures from the walker — for example, two taps means “take me home.” These shoes are called Le Chal, which means “take me there” in Hindi. And as Vipin Das shared in this Q&A with the TED Blog, they are being tested in their first clinical study at LV Prasad Eye Institute in Hyderabad, India. Expected to be available this year, the shoes can be pre-ordered at Ducere Technology’s website. “It’s very encouraging to see the kind of response we’ve had from wearers,” Vipin Das tells the TED Blog. “They were so moved because it was probably the very first time that they had the sense of independence to move confidently — that the shoe was talking to them, telling them where to go and what to do.”

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KB Kee is the Managing Editor of the Moat Report Asia (www.moatreport.com), a research service focused exclusively on highlighting undervalued wide-moat businesses in Asia. The Moat Report Asia’s paid-subscribers from North America, Europe, the Oceania and Asia include professional value investors with over $20 billion in asset under management in equities, some of the world’s biggest secretive global hedge fund giants, and savvy private individual investor who are lifelong learners in the art of value investing. KB has presented his thought leadership as a keynote speaker in global investing conferences. KB has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy, value investing, macroeconomic and industry trends, and detecting accounting frauds in Singapore, HK and China. KB was the head of research and fund manager at a Singapore-based value investment firm since 2002. As a member of the investment committee, he helped the firm’s Asia-focused equity funds significantly outperform the benchmark index. KB was formerly the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. KB is currently a faculty (accounting) at SMU teaching accounting courses that include Accounting Fraud in Asia, the first of its kind to be taught in universities in Singapore/Asia and worldwide and is open to all university students worldwide on global exchange programs with SMU. http://accountancy.smu.edu.sg/faculty/profile/108141/KEE-Koon-Boon www.asianextractor.com

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