Nebula; Haptic wayfinding for the visually impaired

Nebula is a wearable for visually impaired people, who desire to explore autonomously, that stimulates independent travelling and empowers adventurers using haptic feedback to navigate in an abstract compass-like fashion.

Daan Sonnemans
Eindhoven University of Technology
Master Industrial Design

Over het initiatief / About the initiative

Nebula; Haptic wayfinding for the visually impaired

In welke fase zit jouw initiatief? / In what stage is your initiative?

Uitgewerkt conceptfase

Heb je jouw initiatief al gevalideerd? / Did you validate your initiative?

Yes, in collaboration with 7 Australian visually impaired, 5 Dutch visually impaired, and Simon Dogger a blind designer

Meer informatie over jouw initiatief / More info about your initiative

Exploring unfamiliar places is an exciting experience for most sighted people. However, for visually impaired and blind people, this experience is often more frustrating and mentally demanding than enjoyable. Nebula is an interactive belt that supports unfamiliar urban exploration for people with visual impairment by translating navigational data into haptic sensation. It allows users to explore places without constantly figuring out where they are going and where they come from. Nebula minimizes the fear of getting lost and relieves mental strain. Enjoy the exploration: Nebula always takes you home.

Wat zijn jouw volgende stappen om het verder te ontwikkelen? / What are your next steps to develop the initiative?

While the system is currently stand-alone, working straight out of the box, connectivity can be added for more functionalities. Study participants have mentioned seeing it as an extension of the current navigation apps or other systems for visually impaired people. The current version only features abstract compass-like navigation. In the future, a more precise navigation option will be added for people who just need to get somewhere. The improvement in this area is the real-time directional feedback Nebula gives. End users stressed how current navigation often is not precise enough. It sometimes just tells them to go right on a crossing with more than 3 offshoots. In this case, it can be very hard for them to find what is meant by right as there might be a right going between 2 o’clock and 4 o’clock. Nebula solves this by directing them exactly in the right direction. Currently, Nebula only uses a pulsing frequency to point towards the waypoint that increases as one gets closer. Future iterations can feature a method of customising vibrational feedback for the user to create a dictionary of vibrations. This way they can for example set certain vibrations to certain locations. Through a possibly open-source platform, these dictionaries can be shared and edited by people around the world. This creates both a large library for people to search for their needs, while also creating huge datasets of what is important to visually impaired people when exploring.

Wat heb je nodig om (nog meer) impact te maken met dit initiatief? / What do you need to make (more) impact with this initiative?

Investments, brand awareness and time 😉