DIY wearable electronic – Sonar garment for the visually impaired

DIY_sonar_garment.jpgThis weeks wearable electronic DIY project comes again from Lynne Bruning and is the best ever I have seen in the e-textile domain – just fabulous.

The story of her project, the ‘Sonar Garment‘: assisting visually impaired people by navigating through the world and alerting them when an object stands in their way.

The alerting is done via a Ultrasonic Range Finder placed on the front of the garment while the LilyPad Arduino together with the power supply and LilyPad Vibe board which translates a pre-set alerting distance into vibration which the wearer of the sonar garment will feel.

A very smart idea which I can imagine can do a good job for this group of people. It is more discrete as other products used by visually impaired people to navigate through daily life.

This concept might not be a solution for every situation but for going around an office or house, this might be a practical idea although – we are not talking here about a commercial product but a cool and highly interesting DIY project.

To top off the creative approach, Lynne used the Bat motive as style element as Bats use ultrasonic sound to ‘see’. The Bat motive serves also as cover for the technology involved. A very smart design approach.

Actually Lynne’s list of activities in her Instructables is a treasure chest on wisdom on how to approach an interactive garment design as a DIY enthusiast but I am sure her sharing of experiences during the creation of the sonar garment can serve interactive designer as inspiration.


We haven’t done a rating of DIY e-textile projects (yet) but the sonar garment would be on top of the list in terms of creativity but also the comprehensive step-by-step description why certain choices have been made – just fabulous.

This DIY project is a MUST READ for anyone who wants to understand a bit more in depth how to blend perfectly and seamlessly technology with garments in style.


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