We all have at some point found ourselves in a new place and in need of directions. Though Google Maps is there to help, it is a pain having to walk while constantly glancing at the smartphone. An Indian company called Ducere Technologies claims to have solved this problem by developing a pair of shoes that literally guide your feet to the destination. Called LECHAL (lay-ch-al in Hindi), these Bluetooth-connected footwear use haptic feedback to notify users where to go next.
Anirudh Sharma and Krispian Lawrence have launched LECHAL in two forms — a set of shoes or as a set of insoles that can be inserted into a pair of shoes. The footwear connects to a companion app (available on Android, iOS and Windows Phone) via Bluetooth and sends haptic feedback to notify the user. Using GPS the app determines the directions and if you need to turn right, the right side of the footwear will vibrate. The footwear includes lithium-polymer batteries and the company claims that they are good enough to survive for three days on a single charge.
Apart from helping you reach your destination, it also functions as a fitness tracker and lets you check in at places. Users can even set directions using voice commands on the app for a complete hands-free experience, the company claims. The app also lets wearers connect with other wearers to share routes or destinations.
The insole and the shoes will be available from $100 onwards on the company’s website. The idea first started out as a novel quest to help the visually impaired navigate to their destination with the help of haptic feedback. But soon the potential of the footwear saw the company take a commercial route. Sticking to the roots though, Sharma has said that for every shoe purchased from the company, they will subsidize one pair for the visually impaired.
You can watch LECHAL in action and Anirudh Sharma talking about them at a TED conference in the videos embedded below.