Sunu’s sonar wristband can help the blind and visually-impaired regain their independence.
While this wristband may look just like any other wearable device, it’s anything but. Boston-based startup Sunu has developed a smart bracelet that uses sonar and vibrations to help those who are visually impaired navigate their surroundings. Once challenged by city streets and unfamiliar buildings, the elegantly designed Sunu Band will enable the blind to regain their independence, improve orientation and increase their overall awareness of the world around them.
With Sunu Band, wearers will be able to better sense objects or obstacles (above knee height) that are within their path, and continue towards their destination in a much more discreet, intuitive manner.
Sunu Band users can switch between modes, depending on if they’re inside or outdoors. Simply point or scan in the direction that you are walking to detect objects as far as 13 feet away when outside and as close as four to six feet away when indoors. The wearable device can be employed to locate thresholds and entryways, as well as help maneuver in a confined or crowded environment such as a supermarket or an airport.
“Sunu Band enables you to discreetly follow a friend or trail. Avoid dealing with embarrassing situations when in a busy line, like at a coffee shop or bank,” its creators reveal. “Most importantly Sunu Band increases your awareness within new environments. With Sunu Band you will enjoy your mobility, improve your orientation and mobility skills and feel independent.”
Sunu Band is truly augmentative as it does not interfere with the other senses. What’s more, it doesn’t necessarily have to replace existing mobility aids either. Instead, the sonar bracelet can be used in tandem with the more conventional cane or seeing eye dog.
As to how it works, the band uses an ultrasound transducer as a proximity sensor. The ultrasonic wave emitted from the transducer bounces off objects that are within the sensor’s path and direction. The resulting ‘echo’ is detected by the sensor, and is then processed and converted into vibrations. The vibrations intensify as the user gets closer to an object or obstacle.
Beyond that, Sunu Band boasts a one-touch interface that makes changing between modes super easy, as well as hand gesture recognition which allows you to quickly control the smart bracelet. Meaning, the gadget will only stay on when needed and can turned off with a simple motion.
What truly sets this solution apart from others is that the startup offers a low-power beacon that works alongside the Sunu Band to help keep tabs on personal things such as keys, backpacks and luggage. These Sunu Tags can be activated via RF by the bracelet whenever they’re within a 10 to 15 foot range of the tagged article, or via Bluetooth from a smartphone. Sunu Band will vibrate to indicate proximity, while the tag ‘chirps’ until the user finds the item.
Based on an Atmel MCU, the band is equipped with a vibrating motor, a sonar transducer and a 240mAh battery that can last approximately 16 hours on a single charge.
Do you know someone with impaired vision or partially sighted who wants to improve their mobility? Head over to the Sunu Band’s Indiegogo campaign, where its team is currently seeking $50,000. Delivery is set for early next summer.