New technologies could play a vital part in improving how the visually impaired navigate their day-to-day lives. Ideas like connected walking canes and high-tech glasses are gathering some real momentum, as are smart bands like the Sunu launching this month.

Sunu is similar to some other mobility aids we have seen in the past, like the Tacit and the Virtual Cane, in that it uses a mix of sonar and haptic feedback to guide the user around obstacles. This process of echolocation is the same way bats find their way around, shooting out sound waves and then judging how far away objects are by listening in to the echoes.

In Sunu's case, the readings taken from the sonar sensor are combined with haptic feedback to detect objects up to 13 ft (4 m) away. The closer an object, the stronger the reflected sound wave and the harder the band vibrates, while weaker vibrations indicate you've got a bit more space around you.

How subtle these vibrations are can be customized through the companion smartphone app, though the makers say this is optional as not everybody who uses Sunu will necessarily have a smartphone. The battery is said to be good for four hours of continuous use.

Sunu is available for pre-order now through the company's website at a price of US$250, with shipping beginning in August.

Source: Sunu via MIT Technology Review

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