Le Chal is one of the wearable tech projects I really love. Why? Because their purpose, their reason of being created is adding so much value to parts of the population that needs more help than others: people who lost their eye-sight, the ability to navigate through our complex world most of us take for granted.
The creator of Le Chal is Anirudh Sharma who studied Informatics Engineering at the Rajasthan Technical University and loves to create interactive physical experiences by fusing design, art and technology.
Here is how Le Chal (Hindi for ‘Take Along’) works: the GPS position from an Android powered smart phone is transmitted to the shoe’s embedded vibration motors which give a gentle, vibrating indication at the front, back, left and right side of the foot, directing the wearer in the desired direction.
How does the shoe know where to go? Via Google maps the destination is selected on the smart phone. The App translates the current and end coordinates into signals and transmits them via Bluetooth to the heel integrated LilyPad which activates the four tiny vibrators in the shoe.
We have seen a couple of design concepts incorporating direction assisting functionality in clothing but it looks like Le Chal might become a ‘real world’ product sooner than other design ideas.
According to Anirudh Sharma the cost of upgrading a shoe with his navigation design is about $20.- a very small price many will be willing to pay for being able to navigate throughout the world without the need to use a cane or for others like me who get lost constantly when in a foreign city.