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Soon, special shoes to show visually impaired the right way

DNAHM80088 | 1/13/2015 | Author : Abhishek Samuel | WC :525

It works on two sensors, a tapping mechanism & self-charging battery
dna exclusive

Imagine taking a walk around in your own room at night with the lights shut. Without vision, that can be quite a task even in a known environment. Imagine a visually impaired person who has to navigate their whole life that way.
Up until now, the use of white Hoover cane by the visually impaired was such a common thing, that it is assumed as an identifying characteristic of such a person. But a city-based start-up aims to change all that with shoes that would be your vision. Named ‘taparch’, the start-up comprising a Vishakhapatnam-based engineering student, and a young entrepreneur from the city, wants to sell these shoes for around Rs2,000.
The idea germinated in the head of fourth year student of Gitam University, Krishna Sai Inkoolu (21). “In one of our intra-college challenges around three years ago, the topic was Hoover cane. I saw some fellow students stumbling over objects while using it and saw it as a project. This resulted in the development of the taparch technology. It also uses a mechanical energy harvester, which I had designed earlier to enable hassle-free use for the visually-challenged,” he told dna.
“For a person with such a disability, changing or charging batteries would be a hassle. Hence, this technical innovation was incorporated into the design, which charges the battery using harvesting energy that is generated while the person walks. This made it that much more user-friendly,” Krishna added.
“After receiving award for the most innovative product of 2014 from Ficci, the product was also sent to the US. Aerospace and advanced technology company Lockheed Martin had shown interest in buying the design. Similary, a Jaipur-based investor had also offered us around Rs40 lakh for it,” said city-based entrepreneur Manasvi Thapar. However, they declined both offers. “The product is aimed at making the lives of the visually challenged better at an affordable price. It will lend them more confidence. While those international buyers wanted to sell the final product for around Rs10,000, our aim has been to make it available at around Rs2,000. So we plan to self-fund the effort,” Thapar added.
“We will buy ready-made shoes and add the specialised soles to them. The technology embedded in the sole needs more space. We hope to make them in Gujarat,” he said.

How It ‘Sees’
In the front part of the shoe are two cylindrical sensors, one which emits rays and the other that receives the rays reflected back
The feedback from the sensors is sent to a circuit which computes it and makes a virtual map of obstacles in front of the user
Based on this it determines the obstacle, its distance, and dimension and alerts the user with a tapping mechanism embedded in the arch of the sole in the shoes
The sensors can ‘see’ 15 degrees above and below the straight line to determine any tall obstacles as well as drops in gradient such as potholes
The tapping varies in intensity depending on the distance. Hence, the user can prepare to avoid it by changing direction
This technology will make the visually-challenged confident
Range: 0.3 cm to 4 metres
Other features: Water-proof,
self charging
Estimated cost
on launch
Rs 2,000



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