In Japan Honda has established a startup accelerator called IGNITION, which aims to develop new mobility business ventures with funding and marketing. The first company to be launched from this accelerator is called Ashirase, and aims to develop an in-shoe navigation system to help support the visually impaired with walking and routines. The company hopes to have a viable product to market before the end of March 2023.
Honda has a history of making devices intended for improving pedestrian life for people who need a little extra assistance. Anything to help increase the autonomy of the visually impaired is surely to be a great add-on for their lives.
The device fits around each foot, and includes a motion sensor attached to the outside of the shoe. Pairing with a smart phone app, the device will vibrate based on routes set in the app. The left side of the left foot will vibrate to indicate a left turn (and the opposite for a right turn), while the toes of each foot will vibrate to maintain a forward trajectory.
While the device isn’t going to replace the old standard white cane any time soon, this is a step in the right direction (get it?). By allowing the visually impaired to navigate without constantly keeping direction and distances in mind, this device makes it possible for the user to walk in a more relaxed fashion. Focusing on the things around them, rather than what direction they need to be pointed, also makes walking safer. Wouldn’t you enjoy a safer and more relaxing walk?
Japan estimates the number of visually impaired people is currently around 1.6 million, and growing. The forecast estimates that some 2 million Japanese citizens will require visual assistance by 2030.
Wataru Chino, representative director of Ashirase, Inc.:
“An accident suffered by one of my family members motivated me to take action to realize safer and more free mobility for visually impaired people. I developed the Ashirase and applied to IGNITION, Honda’s new business creation program, which led to the establishment of Ashirase, Inc. I am sure that we will face many obstacles as we work toward the market launch of Ashirase; however, we will overcome such obstacles one by one and devote ourselves wholeheartedly to realize the freedom of mobility for visually impaired people.”