Honda creates new shoe-based navigation for the visually impaired
With the rise of vision impairment disabilities in the population, Honda is joining other companies like Microsoft in creating products for the blind and visually impaired market. From Honda on the creation of Ashirase, Inc.
Honda Motor Co., Ltd. recently announced the establishment of Ashirase, Inc. It is the automaker’s first business venture to come up from Ignition, Honda’s new business creation program.
Ashirase, Inc., has created an in-shoe navigation system (also called Ashirase) which utilizes a smartphone app and GPS to aid the user in navigating a route entered into the app. Navigational alerts are delivered to the user through vibrators in the shoes. If the user is “on track” for their route, the vibrator in the front of the shoe activates. If the user is off course, there are vibrators in the left and right sides of the shoe to steer the user in the proper direction. The product is slated for market availability before March 31, 2023. According to the articles about the new device, it is intended to replace the white ane and free up th user’s hands when traveling.
When I hear about new products that are intended to replace the white cane, I always have questions. First, would be obstacle avoidance. According to the available information, the shoes are intended to have a route input into the smartphone app then the vibrators keep you on track to your destination. For me, 90% or traveling from point A to B with my white cane is avoiding things in my path. If I am on a known route, then I know when I am off course and have landmarks along the path to rely on. A navigation aid like this would give a second source of reissuance that I am indeed headed on the proper path to my destination.
I wonder why there are only three vibration points in the shoes. I pass my destination all the time and having a source of input that vibrated on my heel to let me know that I have passed my destination would be a big help.
We reported recently on shoes that use LiDAR to detect obstacles in the user’s path and help them get around their environment. It sounds like a navigation system that tells you were you are going combined with a LiDAR system that tells you what is in your path could really be the next step in visually impaired navigation. These two companies should combine their technology and create an all in one solution.
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