Lots of companies are pouring resources into teaching cars to see the world around them. Now a startup called Strap Technologies is developing a wearable pod that uses some of the same kinds of sensors used by autonomous vehicles—radar, lidar, ultrasonic—to give blind people a clearer sense of their surroundings.
“Each sensor has a different resolution, has a different threshold,” said founder and CEO Diego Roel in a Zoom conversation last week in which he showed off a preproduction Strap. “We use the best of each sensor and we combine them.”
Strap’s chest-worn device weighs less than half a pound and is scheduled to go on sale next summer for $750. (It’s currently available for $500 on preorder.) It calculates the proximity of such hazards as walls, steps, nearby people, and bumps in a sidewalk. Then it conveys this information to the user via haptic feedback—its four straps vibrating according to a grammar that users have to learn.