Argentine student invents 'smart shoe' to replace cane for the blind
The new shoes for blind people, dubbed 'Duspavoni,' were developed by Juan Manuel Bustamante, a student at Industrial College #4, and presented at the National Science Fair in Buenos Aires on Friday. He says he worked on the project for six months.
"I wish Duspavoni, my creation, could get to revolutionize the lives of people with sight problems, partial or total visual impairment," he told Ruptly.
The shoes have three ultrasound sensors placed inside the sole – in the frontal, lateral, and back areas. The sensors emit ultrasound waves which are reflected by surrounding objects and come back to the sensor. The shoe vibrates depending on the distance and position of the objects.
“The closer the object is, the more the device vibrates,” Bustamante said. “If the object is ahead, the tip of the shoe vibrates. If it is on the side, the sole vibrates, and if it is behind, the heel vibrates.”
The device can detect different kinds of materials, people, and animals within a 25-inch (63.5 centimeter) radius of the wearer. It is equipped with rechargeable batteries which can be charged by a USB cable connected to a computer, or even by a mobile phone charger. The time needed for a total charge is about five hours. The owner can then use the shoes for three or four days.
The inventor said the idea for Duspavoni came after a conversation with a friend who was losing her vision. He created the shoes to replace the traditional white cane with something more discreet, which may create less of a social stigma.
“She told me young blind people do not like the cane because they feel it stigmatizes them,” Bustamente told EFE. “The shoes have been conceived for young blind people, between 10 and 25 years old, as they are most refusing to use the white cane.”