Navigation can be a potentially unsafe process for the visually impaired in new and unknown environments. And Brunel University graduate Emilios Farrington-Arnas wanted to offer the visually impaired that independence, by giving them a safer way to navigate from place to place through a wearable navigation system- Maptic. Farrington-Arnas designed this device along with many others to provide turn by turn navigation, where the user can be directed to a destination via vibrations.
The maptic set consists of a visual sensor that can be worn like a necklace and a series of feedback units that can be clipped onto clothing or worn around the wrist. The main sensor connects to a voice-controlled companion smartphone app in order to take advantage of the in-built GPS, as directions are then fed to the wearer through feedback vibrations on the relevant side of the body.
While direction is at the forefront of Maptic, its sensor is also able to recognise head height and upcoming obstacles and alert the user with a buzz on either wrist. Using the sense of touch frees up the hearing for detecting immediate dangers, which is the dominant sense when visually impaired.
Maptic has been designed to not look like traditional assistive and medical products and hence can be worn without attracting the stigma that current assistive products harbor. Either disguised as jewellery or clips or worn as statement pieces, Maptic is entirely adaptable to the individual and their style preferences.
While in its current state, Maptic is purely for the visually impaired. However, the feedback towards the project has been positive, with fully sighted people having a keen interest in the project. Therefore incorporating features of the project further, such as the turn-by-turn, GPS navigation, could allow for the next iteration of Maptic to me more inclusive, and hopefully even less stigmatic.