Le Chal – Shoe for visually impaired
I was in my 5th or 6th grade when my grandfather was diagnosed with Diabetes. Because of the same, his eyesight was badly affected. Just the thought of someone so close to you not being able to see properly, was devastating.
At that time, in my geeky enthusiasm, I wished to create artificial gadgets for helping people with low eyesight. In the process, I happened to research and create a few drawings which could have helped. Those drawings never bore results for various reasons, but it was possibly then, that I discovered my love for creating functional designs.
Drifting away from this story, we can’t even imagine the condition of people who are visually impaired, can we? Ever imagined on how difficult is for them to walk around? The best known solution was to use a white cane when they walk.
Won’t it be brilliant if they had a better help to walk with, than a white cane for themselves? That is when an Information Technology Engineer, from Rajasthan Technical University, Anirudh Sharma, comes into picture. He has developed a system known as “Le Chal”, which translated in Hindi to “Take Along”. The system helps the visually impaired to walk, without the use of any stick and even alerts them of any potholes in the way.
How does it work?
When a user starts his or her journey, the GPS transmitter in the cellphone gets real-time location using Google Maps. This GPS has a built-in compass which calculated the direction user is walking in. Whenever user is supposed to turn, a mild vibrational feedback activates in the shoe to inform user of the direction he or she needs to turn to. Vibration is weak in the beginning of the journey and grows stronger as the end approaches. The built-in proximity sensor detects and lefts the user of obstacles, from up to 10 feet.
After having tested these shoes in a Bangalore based blind school, Anirudh informed: “We intend doing 20 shoes priced at Rs. 1000 ($20 USD) and distribute them to the visually challenged.”
A visually challenged girl who cleared CAT, Vaishnavi Kasturi, shared her experience: “It’s a great option. Sometimes a white cane cannot sense big objects. They just don’t matter on a pothole-marked terrain like in Bangalore. The shoes could be very convenient. The proximity sensor is brilliant. It can help you spot small objects. For instance, in case of a pothole, there is one at virtually every step in Bangalore, the shoes could give out some warning by way of vibrations.”
Update: To keep yourselves updated on the development of ‘Le Chal’, you may get in touch with Anirudh on twitter too.
We think it is a big achievement for Humanity and Design. What do you think?
Do you know of anyone else working on a design to help humanity? We’d like to know!