Tec-Innovation, an Austrian company, has designed ‘smart shoes’ to assist people with vision disabilities navigate easier in the world.
Emanuel Zuendel is blind but can perceive light and darkness. He uses a cane to discern obstacles in his way, but the cane only reaches so far.
The InnoMake shoes can detect objects up to 10 feet in front of a person.
According to Zuendel, these ‘smart’ shoes make his every day life much easier. “If I’d had a shoe like this as a child, I would have saved myself some nasty bruises,” he laughed.
The technology of the shoes include distance sensors, sensors for detecting foot movements, a vibration unit, an ultra-bright LED, a processing unit, as well as a wireless connection to a smartphone. The built-in electronics and battery are mounted in a water and dust-resistant casing, located at the front of the shoes.
The ultrasound sensors identify potential barriers and warn the wearer with vibration directly in the shoes or acoustic signals via a smartphone.
The shoes have already proven helpful, said Zuendel. “In winter, for example, I can better avoid the snow poles that are placed on the streets, so the shoes make it easier to walk through areas with a lot of hindrances,” he explained.
The shoes are retailing for more than $4,000 – a price that might be worth it if they can help people with vision disabilities get around a lot easier and safer.
The InnoMake was designed in partnership with the Austria’s Graz University of Technology.