The visually impaired can soon walk safely, thanks to Honda’s in-shoe navigation device


  • Honda is developing a device for the visually impaired, which will be attached in the shoe to provide vibration-based navigation.
  • Because of its navigation enabling intuitive understanding of the route, users do not have to be constantly mindful of the direction.
  • The navigation system aims to help users reach their destinations safely and have a more independent lifestyle.

A game changer for the visually impaired is in the pipeline.

Honda is working on an in-shoe navigation system, Ashirase, which consists of a smartphone app and a three-dimensional vibration device including a motion sensor. The system will be attached inside the shoe, providing vibration-based navigation.

Routes are set in the app, so the device can follow the direction based on the vibrator. The part of the foot — either front, left or right — vibrates depending on the route to notify the users and lead the path.

Photo Credit: Honda

Typically, people with visual difficulties constantly check their safety and route when they walk alone. However, as they use all remaining senses to acquire information to compensate for their limited sight, it becomes inevitable for them to get lost or fall into unsafe situations.

One person with late-onset total blindness said, “When I get lost, people around me sometimes do not respond when I try to talk to them. It is scary because I don’t know why they are not responding.”

But with the foot-vibration technology, the users’ hand, which is holding a white cane, and their ears used to listen to ambient sounds, will be free — making the walk a lot easier.

Because of Ashirase’s navigation that enables intuitive understanding of the route, users do not have to be constantly mindful of the direction. This helps them walk more safely, leading to a more relaxed state of mind.

Photo Credit: Honda

Honda is getting involved in this type of innovation simply because it matters. In Japan alone, visually-impaired individuals sum up to about 1.64 million as of 2007. This will likely increase to nearly two million by 2030.

Wataru Chino, a designer at Honda, said, “I am sure that we will face many obstacles as we work toward the market launch of Ashirase; however, we will overcome such obstacles one by one and devote ourselves wholeheartedly to realize the freedom of mobility for visually impaired people.”

With the concept of “navigation which enables safety and a relaxed state of mind for the visually impaired,” Ashirase aims to help users reach their destinations safely and have a more independent lifestyle.

Source: Good News Network


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