THE SMART CANE :
A way finding device for the blind
with tactile and auditory feedback
User Study, Product Study, Ergonomics – User, Product & Space
Interacting with the potential user of the product is of utmost importance in any design process. Finding the right balance between form and function begins with involving the user in the design process right from the start. The product that was under development, had issues on form – the user was not comfortable with the handle of the smart cane device, though the product was technically working perfectly.
Working with NGO in chennai and Saksham group, we were able to pinpoint the problem areas in the handle that seemed to be troubling the user while walking with the stick. Their major complaint being the irritation on skin and strain in the fore arm after continuous usage was registered and addressed with a new design for the handle.
Clay Modeling, 3D Scanning:
After collecting the strain points on the hands from different user groups, we decided to change the handle to a more user friendly form. The form had to be organic shape, not just a tapered cylinder like most cheap handle grips. This was done also to accommodate different percentiles.
A clay model was made to suit the form as well as enclose the electronics. The mock up handle was tested with the user group with extremely satisfying results. Next step was to scan the handle and collect a 3D data cloud.
Concept Development & Prototyping:
From the 3d cloud data collected from scanning the clay model, the concept generation process was started. The main criteria for the user was that the product should not look too crude and bulky. It must have color options. It should feel like the part of the stick and it should be easy to attach to the stick by a visually challenged person.
The form was developed so as to suit different holding styles. This was a crucial observation made during the user study. And was also the most striking point made for the success of closing the concept iteration cycle.
Production Kick Start & Launch:
The Smart cane was well accepted by the user group and started sales in India and was also Selected & Approved by Royal Institute for the blind , UK for international marketing. Launched by our Honorable President of India Shri Pranab Mukherjee. The product was an instant hit and proved to be yet another success for the Indian entrepreneurial movement.
The product innovation team was led by Dr. Rao & Dr. Rohal paul of IIT delhi along with manufacturing partner ” Phoenix Medical Systems Pvt Ltd.”