Haptic Wayfinding from Vidia Anindhita on Vimeo.

Problems

People with visual impairments or blindness rely heavily on multisensory feedback from their environment to navigate spaces, but the auditory feedback from the screen reader tends to overpower all other senses and can be very overwhelming for the user to concentrate on what steps to take next. This could potentially put the user in a distressed and vulnerable state, especially if others in the surrounding environment are also distracted (i.e. smartphone zombies). We are proposing to design a different user experience using principles of calm technology. Calm technology is a type of information technology where the interaction between the technology and its user is designed to occur in his/her periphery rather than constantly at the center of attention.

 

Goals

  • Create a wearable device that give haptic and non-intrusive audio feedback
  • Design a well-accepted/ubiquitous product or even invisible product for social change
  • Make an inclusive product more affordable

 

Approach

We developed this project with human-centered design approach. We validated the problems by doing qualitative research directly to people with visual impairments in order to understand the current methods they use for wayfinding; specifically what works well and what needs to be improved. We believe that in order to optimize for better user experience, there is a lot to be learned from precedents and personal experiences.

Usability Testing at Helen Keller Services for the Blind New York City
Usability Testing at Helen Keller Services for the Blind New York City

 

Usability Testing at Helen Keller Services for the Blind New York City
Usability Testing at Helen Keller Services for the Blind New York City

 

Takeaways

We are proposing a new way to support human navigation system using a calm technology approach. The idea is to develop a mobile app extension that can trigger haptic feedback on wearable devices to assist users to reach their destinations. Our objective is to design a product that is well-accepted or even ubiquitous or invisible for social change. The challenge is not only how to design the product that is intuitive and simple enough to understand, but how to bring fashion perspectives to both the practice and culture of inclusive design. Since we think it’s necessary for medical appliances designers to collaborate with fashion designers to create the products for people with disabilities.