A scientist at Germany’s Karlsruhe Institute of Technology has created ‘Proximity Hat’. Florian Braun’s contraption is another one of many systems that are aimed at helping blind users to navigate safely but it is considered to be more effective than the current options. The Proximity Hat applies pressure to the user’s head in the direction of the obstacle.
The prototype version of the hat is similar to a headband and features six ultrasonic sensor modules. Every one of these modules takes 50 measurements in a second while scanning horizontally in all directions over a distance that ranges from a few centimeters to a couple of meters.
Once a sensor picks up an object in its path, it sends a signal to the pad that is elastic and accompanies the sensor to gently push again the user’s head. The strength of the push is determined by the distance between the user and the obstacle; the closer it is, the harder the push. This approach allows the user to determine the direction and the distance of the obstacle.
According to the manufacturer, the system is more intuitive when compared with the others while also leaving user’s senses of touch (hands) and hearing unaffected. Other applications of Proximity Hat include guiding firefighters in a room full of smoke or to help out those workers who have to walk backwards during the course of work.