Seeing with sonar
August 19, 2011 4:24 PM   Subscribe

Tacit is a wearable sonar system for the vision-impaired that communicates the distance of nearby objects using variable pressure on the wrist of the user. Part list, circuit diagram, and detailed instructions for building the ~$100 device included.
posted by BlackLeotardFront (9 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
It's great that this is for the blind, but I really want it for my Predator cosplay.
posted by 2bucksplus at 4:35 PM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

That is nine kinds of awesome.

My best friend in high school is now blind due to macular degeneration. Even though he lost his sight slowly, he's had some trouble adapting. I'm going to try making him one of these.

If it doesn't work, he can at least pretend he's Spiderman.
posted by double block and bleed at 4:48 PM on August 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

In a similar vein, see the Bats Have Feelings Too jacket (instructions) and the PointLocus wayfinding vest.

It makes me really excited to see individuals exploring adaptive tech. Besides increasing the number of ideas that are getting developed and tested, I think it could really help drive the costs of assistive devices down from the stratosphere.
posted by polymath at 8:36 PM on August 19, 2011

Affordable, DIY haptics are way cooler than flying cars and jet packs.
posted by mecran01 at 9:45 PM on August 19, 2011 [5 favorites]

It's not pretty enough for Diana Muldaur to wear yet.
posted by likeso at 1:50 AM on August 20, 2011

They used Parallax Ping))) sensors but powered it with an Arduino instead of a Basic Stamp? That's cold.
posted by localroger at 5:51 AM on August 20, 2011

Brilliant! Almost certainly completely and utterly useless, like all the previous attempts at smart canes. But eventually some whippersnapper will prove me wrong and the world will be a better place.

Now do the one product vision-impaired people have needed forever: the Dogshit Detector!

Disclaimer: there are various smart/sonar/radar canes. I'm sure they have enormously keen users, and both of them will read my comment. And I'm sighted, so what do I know? But generally high-tech stuff like this doesn't integrate into actual use in a support/daily use/practicality sense. A simple cane doesn't need batteries, or training, or interpreting the pressure on your hand to build some kind of mental model of your surroundings because, really, why would you want to?
posted by alasdair at 10:48 AM on August 20, 2011

alasdair: a Ping))) sensor can detect objects out to 20 feet or more, with no risk of interfering with them. By waving this thing around a little you could quickly and unobtrusively build a model of the space in front of you for quite some distance; it's a very well thought out interface that one could probably learn to use in minutes, far more powerful than the cane even if it does need batteries.

It would probably be better if sighted people could here the PING))) chirping as they can hear a cane tapping, but blind people have other ways to signal their status visually.

It's true that it's no good for dogshit, though.
posted by localroger at 12:37 PM on August 20, 2011

It is probably worth noting that the cost of this thing could be dropped by about 30% by replacing the mini-Arduino with an identically programmed (but you'd need the chip programmer) Atmega 186. Arduinos are nice for newbies and prototyping, but a huge waste of money in production.

I bet if you could convince them there is a market Parallax could manufacture a fully assembled build of the sensors and controller for around $50.
posted by localroger at 12:41 PM on August 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

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