TOKYO, June 22 ― It will soon no longer be necessary to have your eyes glued to your phone to find your way around the world's major capitals. Honda, through the start-up Ashirase, Inc., is developing a new kind of GPS navigation system that would create vibrations at the level of the feet and toes to guide the wearer along a precise route and reach their destination without any hitches.
While smartphones have long been taking the place of road maps for getting from A to B without getting lost, companies have been redoubling their inventiveness in recent years to make life even easier for users, whether they are travelling by car or on foot. It is precisely pedestrians that Honda is now addressing with a very original GPS navigation system. Through the creation of Ashirase, Inc, the first start-up of its IGNITION new business creation program, the Japanese manufacturer has revealed that a navigation system implanted in shoes is in development.
A solution for the visually impaired
While this navigation system can be used by everyone, allowing users to have their hands free and not be affected by the dangers associated with increased smartphone use in a city setting, it was essentially designed to help visually impaired people get around. Equipped with a motion sensor, the system, which works in conjunction with a smartphone application, is attached to the inside of the shoe. This allows the system to determine your position, and to give you the necessary indications to find your way.
The system operates in a very intuitive fashion, since it is the vibrations felt at the level of the feet which guide you throughout your movement. If you have to go straight, the device vibrates on the front part of the foot, while if you have to turn, the vibrations will be felt on the right or left side, depending on the direction you have to go. And if you've gone too far, or taken the wrong direction, specific vibrations will also warn you. The simplicity and clarity could allow millions of people to move independently and safely.
“An accident suffered by one of my family members motivated me to take action to realise safer and more free mobility for visually impaired people. I developed the Ashirase and applied to IGNITION, Honda's new business creation programme, which led to the establishment of Ashirase, Inc. I am sure that we will face many obstacles as we work toward the market launch of Ashirase; however, we will overcome such obstacles one by one and devote ourselves wholeheartedly to realise the freedom of mobility for visually impaired people,” noted Wataru Chino, representative director of Ashirase, Inc., in a press release.
The navigation system could be commercially available by the first quarter of 2023. ― ETX Studio