Honda is developing a navigation system built into footwear to help visually impaired people walk, and it could be a game changer.
The Ashirase is a navigation system that consists of a smartphone application and a three-dimensional vibration device that includes a motion sensor, which is attached inside the shoe.
Based on the route set with the app, the device vibrates to provide navigation.
When the user must go straight, the vibrator located on the forefoot vibrates, and when the user approaches a turn to the right or left, the vibrator on the right or left side vibrates to notify the user.
The navigation provided by Ashirase allows an intuitive understanding of the route, so the user does not have to be constantly attentive to the direction, allowing him to walk more safely and in a more relaxed mood.
The fact that navigation is provided through vibration in the foot is also useful because it does not interfere with the user’s hand holding a white cane, or with the ears that are used to listen to ambient sounds.
Why is a company known for its cars involved in this area? Because it is important. In Japan alone, the number of people with visual impairment, including low vision, was estimated at 1.64 million in 2007, and the number is projected to increase to nearly 2 million by 2030.
Visually impaired people constantly check their safety and their route to destination when walking alone.
However, as they must use all the remaining senses to acquire information to compensate for their limited vision, it is inevitable that they cannot pay full attention and face functional problems such as “getting lost” or “falling into unsafe situations.” . “
Furthermore, discovery sessions conducted by the development team with visually impaired people revealed that such functional problems lead to psychological problems, as indicated by comments such as:
“When I get lost, the people around me sometimes don’t respond when I try to talk to them. It’s scary because I don’t know why they don’t respond. “(Comment from a person with late-onset total blindness)”.
With the concept of “navigation that allows safety and a relaxed state of mind for the visually impaired”, Ashriase is being developed as a product that helps users to reach their destinations safely and have a more lifestyle. Independent.
Wataru Chino, Honda designer, said: “I am sure that we will face many obstacles as we work towards the market launch of Ashirase; however, we will overcome these obstacles one by one and we will wholeheartedly dedicate ourselves to realizing the freedom of mobility of people with visual disabilities ”.
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