Raah

In Hindi language, the word ‘raah’ means path (or pathway). Raah is a smart belt developed by Gursehaj (CAD Designing), Amanjeet Singh (Android App), Bhagat Singh (iOS App) and I (Electronics) for the blind people. This belt helps them navigate outdoors on their own. Raah is a smart solution that uses basic sensors and low battery to find navigation path.

The Problem

A blind person knows any obstructing objects in front of him/her but does not know where to go. Either a helper always goes along with him/her or ask for directions all along the way.

Idea

The idea is to embed 8 haptic feedback motors (or LRAs) sandwiched alongside the belt in all 8 directions on a compass along with a driving system which will be inside the belt’s buckle.

An illustration of belt fitted with Haptic Motors (or LRAs)

This driving system will be a custom designed PCB with following components on it

  • 9 DOF IMU – this will consist of a 3-axis accelerometer, gyroscope and a magnetometer.
  • Low Energy Bluetooth 4.0 – this will be used to connect to phone that has bluetooth and internet connectivity.
  • A micro-controller for interfacing the IMUs and Bluetooth – ATMega328 is a preferred choice.
  • Battery – Minimum requirements are 3.7V with a capacity of 1000mAh
  • LiPo Charger – A charger on board for charging up the battery.
Raah PCB Top Side
Raah PCB Bottom Side
This will how the custom designed PCB will be fitted inside the Belt

The buckle will have magnets in design so that it makes it easy for the differently-abled people to charge the battery and a button on top of buckle to start or stop navigation.

There is an Android and iOS compatible application that will help the differently-abled to navigate by communicating with device. The app will send the heading direction and corresponding feedback motor will turn on signalling to the user about direction in which he/she needs to turn.

The Communication Flow

  • When the button is pressed it notifies app to start the listen mode where the user says the location he wants to travel to.
This is how the buckle will look like with Button on it to trigger the navigation mode
  • Once the location is said user’s location is calculated and data is fetched from Google’s Directions API.
  • This returned data is processed step by step along with user’s location and user’s heading direction which is calculated by the IMU in user’s buckle.
  • A single signal is sent from app to the buckle when user needs to change his/her heading direction. This signal is processed by the buckle’s micro-controller which turns on specific haptic motor, notifying user about direction change.
  • When user reaches his/her direction all motors vibrate for a split second notifying arrival.
  • User can press the button twice on his/her belt to stop the navigation.

Notes

  • Since we’re using 9-DOF IMU we can distinguish weather a person is travelling in a vehicle or walking.
  • Cab services such as UBER, Lyft or OLA could be incorporated with this so for long distances which cannot be covered on foot can call a cab for user.
  • In future, navigation for indoor mapped buildings could also be added with help of smart beacons.
  • The belt is detachable and is connected using strong but easy to remove lego connectors. So, it’ll not come off on their own.

Any more suggestions or ideas are welcome 😃. I would love to hear from you all about the idea and it’s implementation.