The BuzzClip is a discreet wearable device that helps the blind or partially sighted navigate the world around them.
Whereas most traditional aids like canes and seeing eye dogs are great for detecting objects below the waist-level, many who are visually impaired continue to seek a more versatile solution that offers upper body coverage. So far, it seems that little has been done to address the specific needs of the large partially-sighted population, not to mention to diminish the social stigma often associated with using these conventional means of assistance.
With this in mind, Toronto-based startup iMerciv has developed a small, discreet wearable for those who are blind or have limited visibility. The BuzzClip can be attached to just about any form of clothing and uses ultrasonic sensors to spot objects that may lie directly in one’s path. It then notifies the user of an obstacle through intuitive vibrations, allowing them to safely navigate around anything that they may encounter along the way. The closer one gets to bumping into something, such as a wall, piece of furniture or a hanging branch, the vibrations will intensify accordingly.
“Orientation and mobility is difficult for a person living with blindness or partial sight. In urban jungles like Toronto, there happen to be many hazardous obstacles scattered all over the city that are difficult to detect. Navigating around busy streets with construction signs, barriers, promotional signboards and tree branches has always been a daily challenge for those living with vision loss,” its creators note.
The BuzzClip boasts a battery life of up to 10 hours, and can be recharged via microUSB. It also comes with two different range options, indoor and outdoor, that are controlled by a simple switch indicated with tactile markings. Users can easily toggle between one and two meter distances, depending on whether they’re walking through the house or taking a leisurely stroll outside, respectively.
Beyond that, multiple units can be employed at the same time for enhanced coverage. For example, placing one BuzzClip on the chest another on each sleeve would protect someone’s front and sides, providing them with more information on their immediate surroundings.
In terms of hardware, the BuzzClip is equipped with a 42kHz ultrasonic sensor for detection, a vibration motor for haptic feedback and an MCU for its brain, all housed inside anodized aluminum casing with a titanium spring clip for ensured stability.
Once again, this latest project is another fine example of how the burgeoning Maker community can literally make a difference in the world. Know of someone who could benefit greatly from this gadget? Head over to the BuzzClip’s Indiegogo campaign, where iMerciv is currently seeking $50,000. Delivery is expected to get underway in March 2016.