What if you’ve never been to a place and missing on the amazing views by just looking at the GPS navigation system on your smartphone? Fret no more, there is a super solution to this.
EasyJet, a European airline company is working on a concept named smart shoes. They named it “Sneakairs” in which the vibrations will be sent to to the wearer’s feet when it’s time to make a turn. This is one of the latest attempts at a tactile navigation tool.
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In a video published the company they have said that “Synchronize your shoes with your phone, choose your destination, put your phone away and enjoy the views”.
The mechanism of this shoe is quite simple. If one needs to make a right turn his right shoe will vibrate. Similarly, if he wants to go left then his left shoe will vibrate. More importantly, if someone has missed the turn, then both the shoes will vibrate twice. That will indicate that you need to go back and rectify your footsteps. Lastly if it vibrates 3 times that will mean that you have reached your destination.
This is built with a miniaturized Arduino clone (an open source hardware). It has a Bluetooth module along with a tiny motor which vibrates every time. Bluetooth helps in connecting this with your device.
Coming to the navigation system, it uses Google Maps API to create it’s on pedestrian navigation app. This GPS will run as the background process. So one easily put his/her phone away. No need to constantly look for the directions. However, no official date of release has been decided yet by the company.
This isn’t a new project. Several trials have been done in the past. Anirudh Sharma, a researcher in Banglore, India, designed a vibrating navigation device built into a shoe to help blind people. In 2014, Sharma along with his partner Krispian Lawrence announced that it’ll be available for every person. They named their shoes ‘Lachal‘.
Another researcher at the MIT named Dhairya Dand developed a similar concept called “SuperShoes”. Those were insoles that could be tucked into a regular pair of shoes . Dand said on his website “The shoes are based on a tickling interface, Left toe tickles – turn left, right toe tickles – turn right, no tickle – keep going, both tickle repeatedly – reached the destination, both tickle once – recommendation, both tickle twice – a reminder.”
Similar is the concept with smrtGRiPS in which bicyclists get to know the directions using a special handlebar grip that connects to a device via Bluetooth. The left grip will vibrate to turn left and so does the right grip when a right turn needs to be made.
We are living in a generation where haptic feedback isn’t enough. The Apple Watch has also a feature of haptic direction. With these new innovations one day we’ll get them in our feet, wrists and hands too .
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Pritam is pursuing engineering and is an intern at NewsGram.Twitter handle: @pritam_gogreen