There are so many apps and devices that can help a blind person navigate, but most of them require that you listen for auditory feedback. Many people, myself included, feel that method distracts them from observing and interacting with their surroundings. It is difficult to listen for cars, bicyclists, and pedestrians while listening to your audio navigation device. It is also difficult to participate in a conversation with a companion while your phone is constantly telling you where you are, and where to go.
WearWorks has developed a haptic wristband that pairs with your phone and uses information from Google Maps to help guide you. You must first tell Google Maps where you are going, and then the wristband will buzz if you are going the wrong way, provide gentle haptic nudges if you need to go left or right, and give no feedback if you are headed in the correct direction.
The device is currently in development, and should be available in 2018.
From the Developer
WearWorks is a team of three individuals who have combined our experience in engineering, industrial design, and fashion to develop a wearable haptic navigation device. While our original goal was to create a device that would allow people who are visually impaired to navigate without the aid of an assistance animal or cane, during our research and development we realized our device would be an invaluable resource for any walker, driver, or biker attempting to navigate an unfamiliar route.
Our device allows anyone to intuitively navigate from point A to point B without having to consult their phone screens for step-by-step directions or a map. We do this by transforming navigation information from Google Maps into proprietary haptic patterns that guide users to their destinations. This allows them to focus on their environment while navigating, so that they can enjoy their surroundings and avoid potential perils, such as collisions with oncoming traffic.
We have been working on creating this device for a year, and during that time have developed proof-of-concept and thirteen functional prototypes. In March of 2016, we debuted three versions of our minimally viable product at SXSW in partnership with New York’s Next Top Makers, the accelerator which provided funding, mentorship, workspace, and networking opportunities for our company during its first year.
Our ultimate goal is to make cities smarter by changing the ways that humans interact with their environment and with each other. Delivering our device to customers will liberate people from the often dangerous distraction of handheld devices while still allowing them to benefit from GPS technology when navigating. This will allow them to turn their attention to their surroundings and to the people that they’re traveling with—from a single companion to an entire community.