CHASQUI - Assistive device for blind people

Designed and developped in Fablab Zoi

Handicap

Chasqui is a low-cost (50$) and interactive stick to guide blind people from a place to another place. It consists of a GPS embedded in the handle with 2 motors, one in the left side and one in the right side, which vibrate to indicate to the user to go either in the left or right direction. The handle is also equipped with buttons so that the user can ask for information on his position.

Technologies used

Computing & softwares CNC milling Casting & moulding Electronics 3D printing
  • What’s the project story?

I had the idea of helping blind people for 3 years but the opportunity of doing it only came when I discovered the maker world in Fablab Yachay and when I started the Fab Academy program in the Fablab Zoy. Angel Cuasqui, who gave me digital fabrication courses in Fablab Yachay became a friend and together we looked for a way of making something relevant for disabled people. He put me in contact with Milton Solano who became progressively blind at the age of 19 and is now helping blind people to be autonomous. I interviewed him to understand his needs and I discovered that it doesn’t exist a reliable system to guide them every day and especially in unknown places. In fact, trained dogs cannot help them in new cities and it exists necklaces or watches which vibrate to indicate to them the way but it can be easily robbed, lost or broken when they fall. When came the moment to make my final project to be graduated from Fab Academy, I took the opportunity to make this project come true.

  • How the workshop was useful ?

I met Roberto Gallo is Fablab Yachay and we kept in touch when he moved to Quito to open his Fablab Zoi. When we exchanged about my desire to go further in digital fabrication, he offered me a grant to undertake the Fab Academy program in the Fablab Zoi. It paid the program cost, the access to the place with all the machines and the materials. In exchange, I help users in the technical and electronic part of their project. This is an incredible opportunity to learn and to experiment with digital fabrication with the expertise of Roberto and in contact with the community of the place. Moreover, the Fablab Zoi is ideally located: it is easy to meet people while finding all the material required.

  • What’s the project’s greatest success so far?

In only 4 months I succeeded to make my idea come true with a functional stick which is able to guide people from point to another.

  • What’s your greatest failure(s)& lesson(s) so far?

As a mechanical engineer, I got all the skills required to design the electronic part but I was not trained to design it within the constraints of putting it in an ergonomic handle. I had to make a lot of iterations to design an ergonomic handle where the electronic part is embedded. It was a great opportunity to develop design skills with the help of Roberto to make usable electronic projects. I also learned a lot about localization and route generation. Actually, the precision of the stick is one meter so I have to improve it by changing the GPS and adding an accelerometer.

  • What’s your vision for the project & next steps?

This project is the first step which enables me to create the basic required to guide someone. Once I got a functional stick approved by end users, I will start to communicate to find fundings in order to create my company and to improve its design, ergonomics and to develop more functionalities. I would like to connect it with wireless earphones to translate map information for users and to add touristic itinerary to make people discover a new city.

  • How anyone interested can contribute to the project?

I am looking for investors to improve and commercialize it but also for people :

  • with knowledge in nanotechnology to help me to design a better-embedded system
  • with solutions to improve the accuracy of the position
  • with the solution to translate text in sound to give map information with earphone

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