A Boston-based startup has developed a wristband that can help people with blindness navigate. It gives out vibrations alerting the user of possible obstructions.
The band, developed by Sunu, makes use of sonar and gives haptic feedback to the wearer with varying levels of vibrations, depending on how far or close the obstacle is, reports the MIT Technology review.
The band has an active range of 13 feet, bouncing ultrasonic sound off the surroundings and has a real time refresh rate of 30 frames per second.
The makers of the band are not limiting the device's usage to only people with vision impairments, and claim that anyone who might be in need of assistance with navigating through their everyday environment can use it. The company mentions cyclists as one such non-blind group who can benefit from the Sunu.
One of the developers of the device, Fernando Albertorio is legally blind – medically diagnosed central visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye with the best possible correction. He says he has no difficulty in navigating the streets, through buildings and managing everyday walking through crowded streets using Sunu. He even ran a 5K marathon without a guide running beside him and with only the assistance of the wristband.
The band can be controlled with an app and is connect to the device through Bluetooth. The sensitivity of the radar, the intensity of the vibrations and a host of other settings and customisations are possible. Sunu, however, can be used without a smartphone as well.
The makers of the band claim the band's 12 hour battery life on a single charge is likely to last at least a few days, as users will switch it off when not in use.
Albertorio says that in the near future, developments to help with navigation will include Google maps integration as well as settings that allow users to set speed of walking.
The product can be picked up in the company's website where they claim to begin deliveries this month.