Indian startup Ducere Technologies has created a new wearable: a shoe that uses vibrations to give directions, reminders and can help visually impaired people interact with their environment
Do you ever get tired of navigating and wish someone or something else could do it for you? What if your shoes could take you to where you need to go and you could leave Google Maps or a guide book in your pocket?
Indian startup Ducere Technologies has developed a smartshoe that uses vibrations to help you navigate from place to place so you can stop staring at your smartphone when trying to get somewhere. The shoe is called Lechal, which means ‘take me along’ in Hindi and that is exactly what the smartshoes are meant to do.
While probably not the most fashionable of shoes, the wearable device helps the user navigate through vibrations, can point out landmarks in a new city, remind you not to forget your phone and track your steps or distance for running as a fitness device. The shoe looks like a slipper, but users can opt just to wear insoles that fit into almost any shoe and connect to a smartphone via bluetooth.
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If the phone is not in close proximity, the insoles will vibrate to remind you not to forget it. Through the smartphone app, you can program the soles to navigate somewhere, point out certain locations and track your steps. The soles can last up to 10 days, or three days of high usage, before needing to be recharged. They are also waterproof, so no need to worry about wearing them in the rain or getting sweaty feet. Lechal shoes are now available for preorder and are expected to go to market in September for $100.
Indian entrepreneurs Krispian Lawrence and Anirudh Sharma co-founded Ducere in 2011 in hopes of developing a wearable product that could help people and offer new conveniences. One of their original thoughts for the shoes was that it could help visually impaired people who right now walk with a white cane or use audio feedback devices to help them get around. Ducere has said that its shoes complement the white cane and can help visually impaired people navigate and acquaint themselves with an environment without audio, which could be a major distraction. Today the company has 35 employees working at its Secunderabad, India, headquarters.
The Lechal shoes are not the first shoes to include navigation features. U.K.-based designer Dominic Wilcox created a pair of GPS-enabled shoes in 2012, but they weren’t really designed for everyday usage. The Lechal shoes seem to be much easier to wear, but who knows if people will be ready to trade fashion for navigation.