Tue. Oct 19th, 2021

After the death of a visually impaired relative, Wataru Chino had no choice but to take action. In response to the tragedy, the Honda EV engineer created a shoe navigation system, dubbed Ashiras (both product name and company name) that allows short-sighted people to use their feet, phones or other visual aids instead of cells. Sensitive navigation system Honda has gained and continues to gain financial support for the Ignition Startup Incubator program.

The Ashiras system consists of two parts, a dedicated Ashiras app running on the user’s smartphone and a motion sensor-electronic compass that combines a silicone shoe. Once the user has programmed their walking destination in the app, the shoe inserts will vibrate in different patterns and tempos – “Walk Forward” vibrates under the ball of the foot, “Rotate to the left” rubs both feet in the right direction and motion that points near the insertion vibration bend or barrier. .

The idea behind the system is to allow users to be more aware of their surroundings while walking, instead of repeatedly stopping for advice on their smartphones or pedestrians to navigate using their legs.


Currently the insert prototype can only be used on low top sneakers and dress shoes but Chino already has plans to expand the selection of footwear “we are thinking [new footwear styles], And the idea is twofold at the moment, ”Chino told Engadget through an interpreter. “One is to try to change, to change [electronic] Device so that the shape can be fitted to other types of shoes. “

“Otherwise,” he continued, “all we can do is change the yellow parts of this device so that it fits in with other types of shoes.” There are wearer’s feet and various vibrating navigation gyroscopes. The system has a reported week-long battery life when using the system for navigating an average of three hours a day. Initially, the insert will be offered in Japan in generic small, medium and large sizes but he plans to offer more personalized accessories once the product hits the market.

The navigation system is currently somewhat limited, based on the Google Maps API instead of the HD map source, which will work until it receives a navigation data signal. This means that the system may not initially work in indoor areas such as malls or hotels – although hiking trails, parks and other public lands should not be a problem.

Chino and his team are looking to incorporate a personal dead-reconnaissance (PDR) system, Wi-Fi-based positioning or IoT navigation capability so that users can navigate their way through internal public spaces at a later time. The team also plans to add public transportation options to the program in the future.

The company plans to release a beta version of the Ashiras system in Japan in October or November this year. Insertions and free use of the app will be available for one week before users ask for feedback. Following the public beta, Ashiras executives expect the commercialized product to be ready by October 2022 and include a 2,000 – 3,000 yen ($ 18 – $ 27) monthly subscription.

Prior to this, however, the startup was seeking additional funding of about 200 million yen – 70 million yen not already provided in the equity ignition program – in order to increase full production.

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