Scientists Develop Smart Shoe That Helps Blind People Avoid Obstacles And Escape 'Nasty Bruises'
LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) - Computer scientists have created a smart shoe that helps blind and visually impaired people avoid multiple obstacles.
The shoes, called InnoMake, contain waterproof ultrasonic sensors attached at the tip of each shoe. Whenever it encounters obstacles, the sensors send vibrations or make noises to signal the wearer.
The warning system can detect obstacles from further away than a cane, helping the user to avoid both the obstacle and the unpleasant jolt of being rammed by your own cane when you run into something.
"If I'd had a shoe like this as a child I would have saved myself some nasty bruises," says Emanuel Zuendel, 37, who was born mostly blind. He perceives light and darkness but has needed a white cane all his life to move around safely and avoid obstacles.
The shoes use an innovative algorithm to send and receive the signals while the user walks. The system knows how far away that person is from an obstacle and sends a warning up to about ten feet ahead of it, says Kevin Pajestka from Tec-Innovation, the company which created the shoes.
Zuendel says the smart shoes are particularly useful when extra obstacles appear on routes he already knows and walks faster on.
"In winter for example, I can better avoid the snow poles that are placed on the streets so the shoes make it easier to walk through areas with a lot of hindrances," he says.
Currently, a new set of shoes or modification to existing shoes will set you back 3,800 euros. That's about $4,640 U.S. dollars.
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