Lechal interactive haptic footwear began as a simple sketch drawn by Anirudh Sharma back in 2010. The idea: footwear designed to unobtrusively aid the visually impaired using GPS navigation via haptic feedback inside the shoes themselves offering directional guidance invisibly. The Google Maps assisted footwear idea became such an obsession it compelled Sharma to quit his job at Hewlett-Packard Labs to launch Ducere Technologies to flesh out the concept into “Le Chal”, Hindi for “take me there”.
Partnering with friend, Krispian Lawrence, they tightened the name to Lechal while they expanded the technologies integrated into the shoe. Now fitted with Bluetooth connectivity to sync with a navigation app for Android, iOS, or Windows, the Lechal footwear system is now being marketed beyond the visually impaired market to a wider audience of smart device wearers.
Haptic GPS navigation (e.g., left shoe vibrates, turn left, a block later the right shoe vibrates, now turn right), social proximity/route notification, daily physical activity monitoring, and calorie counting realign the Lechal as inclusively useful for all (and since the insoles are removable, the heart of the haptic/navigation system is transferable to other footwear options).
Inside the Lechal’s polyurethane antibacterial insoles are two USB batteries powering the haptic system. The compatible wall charger operates using finger-snaps and reports charging levels via audio tones.
Ducere Technologies is accepting pre-orders for the Lechal shoes and insoles now, with an expected ship date in September.
If you like this idea, check out these GPS shoes by Dominic Wilcox.