Computer scientists from Austria have developed a revolutionary shoe called InnoMake to assist blind individuals in avoiding obstacles while walking.

This innovative shoe, developed by Tec-Innovation in collaboration with Graz University of Technology, comes with a waterproof ultrasonic sensor on each toe that can detect obstacles up to 13 feet away. When an obstacle is detected, the wearer is alerted through vibrations and sounds, much like the parking sensors found in vehicles.

Markus Raffer, a visually impaired co-founder of Tec-Innovation, has found these shoes to be incredibly helpful. He stated, “This works very well and is already a great help to me personally.” InnoMake not only detects obstacles but also has the capability to identify the nature of the objects, such as walls, cars, or stairs, and provide customized alerts accordingly. These sensors can be obtained as a complete shoe or as a retrofit option.

The creators of InnoMake have plans to further improve its design by incorporating camera-based recognition and machine learning. This enhancement will provide even better navigation assistance for the users. In the future, InnoMake may also offer a “street view navigation map” to aid other users in navigating their surroundings.

Friedrich Fraundorfer, a researcher at TU Graz, explained, “They use camera images from the foot perspective to determine an area that is free of obstacles and thus safe to walk on, and they can recognize and distinguish objects.” With its advanced features and potential for further development, InnoMake has the ability to transform the lives of visually impaired individuals, allowing them to navigate with more confidence, independence, and safety.