TORONTO – For those of us who struggle with directions, map applications are a must – but having your head buried in your smartphone following along with Google Maps can be distracting and dangerous.
Enter the smart shoe.
Indian startup Ducere Tech has created a line of Bluetooth-enabled footwear called Lechal, designed to deliver directions straight to the user’s feet with vibrations.
Available in a shoe or insole, Lechal – which translates as “take me there” in Hindi – allows the user to enter their destination into an app using a mapping program like Google Maps. Once the user begins walking around, the shoe or insole will vibrate according to which way you are supposed to turn.
Going left? Your left shoe will vibrate, and vice versa.
The shoe also tracks things like the number of steps taken and calories burned.
But the shoes are not just designed for those who have trouble with directions. Ducere Tech hopes that the smart shoes will benefit those with visual impairments.
“The white cane, while an effective aid, falls short with respect to navigation, directions and orientation. Moreover, current assistive devices rely primarily on providing audio feedback,” reads the company’s website.
“People who are visually challenged depend heavily on their sense of hearing to acquaint themselves with the environment and may find audio feedback a major distraction.”
Ducere Tech has partnered with L V Prasad Eye Institute in Hyderabad, India, to study the footwear’s effectiveness as an assistive device.
Each time an order is placed for the special edition smart shoes, the company will donate one pair of Lechal shoes to a visually impaired user.
“Through this powerful, intuitive, unobtrusive footwear, LECHAL hopes to provide people who are visually challenged the confidence to independently move around in familiar and unfamiliar areas,” reads the website.
Both the shoes and the insoles will retail for about $100. The company is currently taking preorders on its website and says it will ship internationally.
© Shaw Media, 2014