Bracelet Haptic Way Finding

Challenges.

People with visual impairments or blindness rely heavily on multisensory feedback from their environment to navigate spaces, but the auditory feedback from the screen reader tends to overpower all other senses and can be very overwhelming for the user to concentrate on what steps to take next. This could potentially put the user in a distressed and vulnerable state, especially if others in the surrounding environment are also distracted (i.e. smartphone zombies). We are proposing to design a different user experience using principles of calm technology. Calm technology is a type of information technology where the interaction between the technology and its user is designed to occur in his/her periphery rather than constantly at the center of attention.

Goal.

  • Create a wearable device that give haptic and non-intrusive audio feedback

  • Design a well-accepted/ubiquitous product or even invisible product for social change

  • Make an inclusive product more affordable

Approach.

We developed this project with human-centered design approach. We validated the problems by doing qualitative research directly to people with visual impairments in order to understand the current methods they use for wayfinding; specifically what works well and what needs to be improved. We believe that in order to optimize for better user experience, there is a lot to be learned from precedents and personal experiences.‚Äč

The Takeaways.

We are proposing a new way to support human navigation system using a calm technology approach. The idea is to develop a mobile app extension that can trigger haptic feedback on wearable devices to assist users to reach their destinations. Our objective is to design a product that is well-accepted or even ubiquitous or invisible for social change. The challenge is not only how to design the product that is intuitive and simple enough to understand, but how to bring fashion perspectives to both the practice and culture of inclusive design. Since we think it’s necessary for medical appliances designers to collaborate with fashion designers to create the products for people with disabilities.

For people with visual impairments or blindness, way finding, or the process of navigating unfamiliar spaces to reach a desired destination, is a complex and intimidating task. Although mobile phones now come preinstalled with screen readers (ie. iPhone VoiceOver and Android’s TalkBack), Google Maps and similar GPS navigation apps are not user-friendly. Using Maps API and Bluetooth LE, we are developing a way finding bracelet and mobile app that translates turn by turn directions to haptic vibrations to safely guide visually-impaired users to their desired destination.

Role

Interaction Designer

Development

Adafruit Bluefruit LE, Apache Cordova, Mapbox

Project Type

Wearable Technology

Collaborator

Sandy Hsiesh

Timeline

4/1/2018 - 5/2/2018