A new collection of wearables has set its sights on giving the visually impaired a helping hand when trying to get around in a discreet and unobtrusive way.
Maptic is made up of a sensor that is worn as a necklace and a number of feedback units that are worn on the wrist or clipped onto items of clothing.
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 haptic feedback vibrations on the relevant side of the body.
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And 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.
Maptic was created by Emilios Farrington-Arnas, an industrial design graduate from Brunel University who embarked on the project in order to find a viable navigation solution for those with impairments.
"How the user interprets the objects in front of them into touch was the most important part of the project. There was a lot of research and prototyping involved to design intuitive vibrations," he told Dezeen.
"I ended up testing many different sorts of components, vibrations and intensities until the most intuitive choice of hard, ticking vibrations was chosen – a function that is reminiscent of sonar."
With the use of vibrations on the body, it means that users don't have to shut off their ears with headphones in order to navigate from A to B.
It's not yet clear if Maptic will hit the market for the visually impaired or remain as a concept, but Farrington-Arnas is currently experimenting with how to bring the technology to able-sighted people who are also looking for turn-by-turn navigation.
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