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Wearable technology: a bracelet guides the visually impaired using vibrations

Wayband was developed by startup company WearWorks, and is able to accompany blind and partially sighted people not through voice communication, but relying on touch. Here's a video explaining how it works 

We can all switch our smartphones to the ‘vibrate’ option when we don’t want to be disturbed: the vibration will then alert us of an incoming call, a text message, or an email. 

The technology involved, which is considerable, is called ‘haptic’ and exploits the concept of haptic perception, based on the sense of touch. 

The US startup WearWorks was inspired by this type of technology to produce a smart bracelet, with integrated GPS, called “Wayband”, which can guide the visually impaired. The system is fairly simple: the smartphone application allows you to enter the desired address, and the bracelet—linked to a GPS system—will guide the visually impaired person to their destination, vibrating when the user strays from the correct route and until they get back on the right track. Tactile language, which is sensitive, intuitive and not very intrusive, alleviates the sense of hearing, a sense that is overused by the blind for obvious reasons.

The product is not the only one in existence within this market; indeed, it appears to be a mixture between the Feelspace belt and the Sunu Band multipurpose bracelet. For the writer and lecturer Marcus Engel, who was blinded in an accident and now travels all over the world, the bracelet has dramatically changed his way of getting around. “If I use the traditional smartphone voice guide, other environmental noises can overlap and confuse the directions”. He goes on to say: “It's a truly amazing way of learning through touch”. Find out more in the following video.



- originally published by L'Atelier BNP Paribas

13 October 2017
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