Honda is helping develop a GPS navigation system for the visually impaired.
The Ashirase is a navigation system consisting of a smartphone app and a three-dimensional vibration device including a motion sensor, which is attached inside the shoe.
Based on the route set with the app, the device vibrates to provide navigation. When the user should walk straight, the vibrator positioned on the front part of the foot vibrates, and when the user is approaching a right or left turn, the vibrator on the right or left side vibrates to notify the user.
The navigation provided by Ashirase, a business venture funded by Honda’s New Business Creation Program, enables an intuitive understanding of the route, and therefore the user does not have to be constantly mindful of the direction, which makes it possible for them to walk more safely and with a more relaxed state of mind.
Having navigation be provided through vibration on the foot is also useful in that it does not interfere with the user’s hand which is holding a white cane, or ears used to listen to ambient sounds.
Ashirase is the brainchild of Wataru Chino, who was inspired to develop the technology after one of his family members suffered an accident. The navigation device is expected to launch to the public by the end of March 2023.