[nfb-talk] The GPX Shoes:

d m gina dmgina at samobile.net
Fri Oct 18 02:45:49 UTC 2013

Well Kenny if you try this shoe first give a good report ok?

Original message:

>> 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.

>> Valerie Duffy, MSW

>> Visual Impairment Coordinator

>> Phone:  208-422-1228

>> "We are visitors on this planet. We are here for 90 or 100 years at the
>> very most. During that period, we must try to do something good, something
>> useful,
>> with our lives. If you contribute to other people's happiness, you will
>> find the true goal, the true meaning of life." ~ HH, the 14th Dalai Lama

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