Wristband Lets Visually Impaired Navigate by Sonar

It's being called 'the Fitbit for the blind'
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 28, 2017 3:58 PM CDT
Creators Hope 'Fitbit for the Blind' Will Change Lives
The Sunu Band works like sonar to help the visually impaired navigate the world.   (YouTube)

A man who recently lost his vision says a new device, which lets the visually impaired navigate via sonar, could be "the Fitbit for the blind," Ars Technica reports. The Sunu Band, which was released in August, is a wristband that emits a high-frequency sound wave that bounces off objects and back to the band, where it's translated into a vibration, the Washington Post explains. The closer an object is, the more frequent the vibration. "One of my friends calls the device his 'sixth sense,'" says Fernando Albertorio, one of the co-creators of Sunu. According to MIT Technology Review, Albertorio, who is legally blind, has used the wristband to avoid objects while walking, find doorways, identity crosswalk buttons, and even run a 5K race. He says the "feeling of independence" is "amazing."

The Sunu team hopes their invention changes how the visually impaired live. Albertorio says people who are blind can be afraid to go outside, but not only will Sunu help them move about safely, it allows the visually impaired to "blend in and be part of their community," unlike a traditional cane. The president of the Perkins School for the Blind says Sunu could be a complementary tool to go along with canes and guide dogs and be especially useful for people who aren't completely blind. Albertorio says "this is just the beginning." Sunu eventually hopes to partner with Facebook or Google Maps to give the visually impaired up-to-date information about the area through which they're traveling, including parks, transportation, and restaurants. (This boy's diet nearly made him go blind.)

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