Ducere Tech, an Indian startup that designs wearable technology, has developed interactive, vibrating footwear that helps users find directions. The new shoe technology is called Lechal, which means “take me there” in Hindi.
First, the users must enter their destination in the Lechal app using Google Maps or another navigation app. Their smartphone then connects via Bluetooth with a small module located in the back of each shoe, near the heel. The right or left module will vibrate every time the users have to take a turn, pointing them in the right direction.
Its creators, Krispian Lawrence and Anirudh Sharm, developed the device aiming to improve the aids currently available to the visually impaired. They told the Indian magazine White Print, which is printed in Braille, that Lechal is their attempt at developing a technology that can help visually impared people navigate unfamilar areas by providing vibrating cues that can tell them where take a turn. The new technology is designed to complement the white cane—the walking stick that blind people and those with severe vision loss use to travel independently.
Lawrence and Sharm—who hope their creation provides “people who are visually challenged the confidence to independently move around in familiar and unfamiliar areas”—have partnered with doctors from the LV Prasad Eye Institute in India to run clinical trials.
Katie Nelson from Mashable reports that Lechal will also be sold as a lifestyle product that can track the number of steps taken and calories burned. The shoes will cost about US$150, but the price could be lower for those who only want to buy the insole platforms, which can be adapted to any type of footwear. Nelson reports that the first orders will be shipped in March 2015.
Watch the video below to see how Lechal works as a lifestyle product: