Wearable Haptic Navigation Device for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Award last edited on: 9/8/2022

Sponsored Program
Awarding Agency
Total Award Amount
Award Phase
Solicitation Topic Code
Principal Investigator
Keith L Kirkland

Company Information

WearWorks Inc

111 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10003
   (203) 747-9762
Location: Single
Congr. District: 12
County: Kings

Phase I

Contract Number: ----------
Start Date: ----    Completed: ----
Phase I year
Phase I Amount
The broader impact/commercial potential of this project is improved navigation outcomes for blind and visually impaired (BVI) persons, approximately 285 million people worldwide according to World Health Organization (WHO) estimates. Orientation and Mobility (O&M) is very challenging for the BVI persons, and is rated as one of their two most significant stressors. The company aims to commercialize a promising new assistive technology that utilizes advanced haptics (communication via touch) to enable new powers of navigation for BVI persons. The technology will be a noninvasive and wearable device that combines high-definition haptics with GPS and embedded, Bluetooth-enabled orientation hardware to aid BVI users to navigate to both familiar and new destinations. The technology strategy overcomes the deficiencies of other BVI waypoint assistive technologies by more fully exploiting the skin?s sensory capacity and by utilizing embedded orientation hardware to provide continuous navigation feedback between GPS signals. The company?s goal is to provide a robust, haptic navigation solution with a form factor and price point that makes the technology accessible to the widest possible number of BVI persons, including congenitally and late blind users, the visually impaired and legally blind. This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project will research the feasibility of leveraging new insights into haptics to improve Orientation and Mobility (O&M) outcomes for the millions of people who suffer from blindness and visual impairment. The company?s proprietary technology is a novel and innovative strategy that combines intuitive, high-definition haptics, customized GPS, and embedded orientation hardware to deliver a superior and practicable solution for BVI navigation. In contrast to other, currently available haptic navigation technologies, which utilize unintuitive and/or unsophisticated haptic feedback, this new technology incorporates refined and varied feedback that provides the user with intuitive and accurate navigation information. By coupling GPS with Bluetooth-enabled, embedded orientation hardware, the strategy delivers a continuous stream of navigation feedback without any gaps in coverage. The project?s key technical challenges are increasing navigation accuracy, optimizing haptic language algorithms, and reducing the technology form-factor/scale. The project team plans to mitigate or eliminate GPS false-reads by investigating the use of sensor fusion and dew point collection to improve the fidelity of BVI user location. Haptic algorithms will need to be reworked and optimized for use in a cost-effective, multi-actuator device with a form/factor that presses firmly yet comfortably on the wrist.

Phase II

Contract Number: ----------
Start Date: ----    Completed: ----
Phase II year
Phase II Amount