This Stylish Wearable Helps Visually Impaired People Navigate

This Stylish Wearable Helps Visually Impaired People Navigate
Design

Maptic uses haptic feedback to guide users

Matt Vitone
  • 14 august 2017

Though there is no shortage of innovative devices using technology to make the lives of visually impaired people easier, many of them are limited in how much they can help, while other solutions look just a bit too medical to be truly desirable for everyday wear.

UK-based designer Emilios Farrington-Arnas has taken note and created Maptic, a wearable for the visually impaired that is not only fashionable but includes technology to provide greater safety and mobility.

Maptic uses small feedback units, which can be clipped onto clothing or worn around the wrist, and a visual sensor that can be worn as a necklace. Together, the sensor and feedback units sense the wearer’s surroundings and guide them using GPS to provide step-by-step directions via a voice-controlled iPhone app. The feedback units give haptic feedback (vibrations) on the left or right side of the body to let the wearer know when to turn.

One of the most important aspects of the Maptic set is the necklace sensor, which, unlike other aids, allows the wearer to sense and respond to obstacles at chest level and above, which can be of crucial importance when trying to navigate in crowded or unfamiliar areas.

The iPhone app was also thoroughly thought out for visually impaired users. The voice commands free up the wearer’s hands, while the haptic feedback units guide the user without audio. Audio commands, which are used by many other devices for the visually impaired, can actually make it more difficult to navigate, as hearing becomes heightened for those with limited vision. Haptic feedback, however, lets the user hear their surroundings as they move.

Each of the devices gives the wearer flexibility in how they want to wear it and can also be customized. Farrington-Arnas, who has a family history of poor eyesight, says he hopes Maptic will help combat the stigma surrounding assistive devices by framing them as fashionable and cool.

“Being told that you have a lifelong, incurable, eyesight problem is a terrifying prospect; one that is very difficult to come to terms with,” the designer wrote on his website. “‘Maptic’ (a play on map and haptic) was chosen as the brand name, one that doesn’t have immediate medical connotations and would be more closely linked as a lifestyle brand.”

The designer is also currently toying with the idea of extending the project to look into uses for Maptic among sighted people, as haptic feedback for turn-by-turn directions proves to be widely popular.

Emilios Farrington-Arnas

Though there is no shortage of innovative devices using technology to make the lives of visually impaired people easier, many of them are limited in how much they can help, while other solutions look just a bit too medical to be truly desirable for everyday wear.

+Apple
+Design
+Europe
+Fashion
+haptic feedback
+navigation
+technology
+travel
+UK
+wearables
+wellness

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