Gloria Whipple glowhi at centurylink.net
Tue Oct 1 19:21:16 UTC 2013

Oh, give me a break!

I hope it doesn't work out.

Just my opinion.

Gloria Whipple

-----Original Message-----
From: nfb-talk [mailto:nfb-talk-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf Of Joshua
Sent: Tuesday, October 01, 2013 12:01
To: nfb-talk at nfbnet.org

Good grief!
What's next?
Blessings, Joshua

A haunting black-and-white video screened during the TED Fellows talks<


depicted people speaking into a device and then walking - at first
taking halting steps, then more confident strides. As the video
unfolds, the camera zooms in on the faces of the walkers - revealing
that they are blind. With his team, TED Senior Fellow Anthony Vipin
Das, an eye surgeon, has been developing haptic shoes that use
vibration and GPS technology to guide the blind. This innovation -
which could radically change the lives of the vision-impaired - has
drawn the interest of the United States Department of Defense, which
has recently shortlisted the project for a $2 million research grant.
Anthony tells us the story behind the shoe.
Tell us about the haptic shoe.

The shoe is called Le Chal, which means "take me there" in Hindi. My
team, Anirudh Sharma and Krispian Lawrence and I, are working on a
haptic shoe that uses GPS to guide the blind. The most difficult
problems that the blind usually face when they navigate is orientation
and direction, as well as obstacle detection. The shoe is in its
initial phase of testing: We've crafted the technology down to an
insole that can fit into any shoe and is not limited by the shape of
the footwear, and it vibrates to guide the user. It's so intuitive that
if I tap on your right shoulder, you will turn to your right; if I tap
on your left shoulder, you turn to your left. The shoe basically guides
the user on the foot on which he's supposed to take a turn. This is for
direction. The shoe also keeps vibrating if you're not oriented in the
direction of your initial path, and will stop vibrating when you're
headed in the right direction. It basically brings the wearer back on
track as we check orientation at regular intervals. Currently I'm
conducting the first clinical study at LV Prasad Eye Institute in
Hyderabad, India. It's very encouraging to see the kind of response
we've had from wearers. 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.
How do you tell the shoe where you want to go?

It uses GPS tracking, and we've put in smart taps: gestures that the
shoe can learn. You tap twice, and it'll take you home. If you lift
your heel for five seconds, the shoe might understand, "This is one of
my favorite locations." And not just that. If a shoe detects a fall, it
can automatically call an emergency number. Moving forward, we want to
try to decrease the dependency on the phone and the network to a great
extent. We hope to crowdsource maps and build up enough data to store
on the shoe itself.

The second phase we are working on is obstacle detection. India has got
such a varied terrain. The shoe can detect immediate obstacles like
stones, potholes, steps. It's not a replacement for the cane, but it's
an additive benefit for a visually impaired person to offer a sense of
direction and orientation.
Are you still in the development stage?

The insole is already done. We are currently testing it. I'm using
simple and complex paths - simple paths like a square, rectangle,
triangle and a circle, and complex paths include a zigzag or a random
path. Then we are going to step it up with navigation into a
neighborhood. From there we'll develop navigation to distant locations,
including the use of public transportation. It will be a stepwise study
that we'll finish over the middle of this year, then go in for
manufacturing the product. You're an eye doctor. How did you get
involved in this?

I'm an eye surgeon who loves to step out of my box and try to see
others who are working in similar areas of technology that are helpful
for my patients. So Anirudh Sharma and I, we're on the same TR35 list
of India in 2012. I said, "Dude, I think we can be doing stuff with the
shoe and my patients. Let's see how we can refine it." There was
already an initial prototype when he presented last year at EmTech in
Bangalore. Anirudh teamed up with one of his friends, Krispian Lawrence
of Ducere Technologies in Hyderabad, who is leading the development and
logistics to get this into the market. We just formed a really cool
team, and started working on the shoe, started testing it on our
patients and refining the model further and further. Finally we've come
to a stage where my patients are walking and building a bond with the shoe.
Are these patients comfortable with the shoe?

Yes, it's totally unobtrusive. And more importantly, we are working on
developing the first vibration language in the world for the Haptic
Shoe. We're looking at standardizing the vibration, like Braille, which
is multilingual. But even more crucial than the technology, the shoe is
basically talking to the walker. How they can trust the shoe? So that's
an angle that we are looking at. Because at the end of the day, it's
the shoe that's guiding you to the destination. We're trying to build
that bond between the walker and the sole.
Building a bond with the sole. That's good. I'm going to use that.

nfb-talk mailing list
nfb-talk at nfbnet.org
To unsubscribe, change your list options or get your account info for

More information about the nFB-Talk mailing list