Amazing what a little ingenuity, coupled with a basic need, can make happen. Twenty-four-year-old Anirudh Sharma, a computer engineer from India, has, according to a recent article in The Economist, come up with a design for a shoe that would help the visually impaired get where they need to go – without a cane, a dog or any other form of assistance.
I’m no engineer myself, and the article does a good job of describing how the shoe will work. So I’ll just mention that it involves a smartphone app, a GPS and a device in the sole of the shoe which, once a destination is mapped out, signals which way to turn. Sharma, who’s put together a company called Ducere Technologies to develop the shoe, calls it “La Chal,” which is Hindi for “take me there.”
He came up with the idea after a friend told him how dependent his visually impaired brother is on the family for help. Sharma then put together a team which, in six days, designed and built a prototype – just in time for the MIT Media Lab Design and Innovation Workshop in 2011.
Ducere is now testing the latest version of the shoe, with the intent of making it available later this year. Sharma provides updates on his own web site, and, according to The Economist, the company’s hoping to build in sensors that would also warn users of nearby obstacles – including, eventually, cars.