With the navigation belt, we try to support visually impaired people to get to their destination safely through barrier-free paths as independently as possible. Four vibration motors can tell the user if he has to go left, right, forwards or to turn around.
Arduino, Vibration Motor, HC-06
The navigation belt works with four vibration motors connected to an Arduino nano. In this prototype, we controlled the motors with our smartphone via Bluetooth.
First of all, we collected some ideas for the navigation of visually impaired people, here we had ideas like sound-controlled navigation or feedback through a white cane.
We have created a stakeholder map for our research. It turned out that the sense of hearing should not be impaired since the surrounding volume of people or cars are helpful for visually impaired people.
Finally, we came up with the idea of developing a navigation belt because we didn't want to restrict senses like hearing and we decided that the white stick should be additional support for the navigation.
For the first prototype, we connected six vibration motors to an Arduino Nano and attached everything to a belt. To perform good user tests, we also connected a Bluetooth module to the Arduino, so we could easily navigate users remotely.
The users gave us feedback that it is difficult to assign the vibrations and therefore they do not know where to go.
To stow the cables and the microcontroller well, we took an elongated piece of fabric and provided it with Velcro at the top and bottom. This enabled us to stow the entire technology inside the belt and still make it accessible.
This gave us the idea of completely fitting the belt with a Velcro fastener on the inside. As a result, we were able to position the individual vibration motors anywhere without any problems.
We also choose Velcro to close the belt, as this makes it easier to adjust the belt to suitable sizes.
After trying a few more vibration patterns, we kept getting the feedback that it is best to feel where to go with four vibration motors.
In the final product, the destination input works through a voice control.
In the version with four vibration motors, the front motor vibrates at regular intervals as long as you have to walk straight. The motors on the left and right sides of the belt vibrate until the turning process has been completed. When u have to turn around, the motor on the back vibrates as long as you finished to turn around.