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Existing solutions meant to help visually impaired people navigate add load to their attention and sense of hearing. Visually impaired users experience the world mainly through their ears while they move through spaces. Solutions that require them to constantly pay attention to audio directions take away from the joy of hearing sounds and noises while they walk or commute from one place to another.

Unav was done as a part of my course at the National Institute of Design. The brief was to choose a project around accessibility. I chose to work on designing a navigation system for visually impaired users.

Preliminary Research


I started my project by looking for existing research and solutions in this area. 

User Interviews


I spoke to visually impaired users to understand how they navigate, their difficulties, and their preferences.


Existing solutions added a lot of cognitive load on users and required them to constantly wait for audio instructions.


The participants also said that they enjoy hearing pleasant noises while they walked, like the sound of birds or the voice of people walking around them and audio solutions prevented them from doing so.

I decided to design a solution to help visually impaired users navigate using the sense of touch. I then proceeded to gain an understanding of the touch sensitivity across different parts of our body and which part of our body was the right place to design for.

Our wrists have enough nerve endings to feel the movements of objects on them as well as the direction of the movement.



Ideated on ways directions can be conveyed to users through the sense of touch

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Quick Prototyping


I created quick prototypes of my ideas and tested them with users to check if they were able to understand the signals conveyed to them




Based on feedback received from the quick prototyping round, I designed a mechanism to deliver directions on users' wrists based on model 4

Reasons model 4 worked:

  • Easy to understand the direction

  • The duration of the instruction was long enough

  • Did not cause friction


Inside the band - I designed a mechanism keeping in mind the above-mentioned reasons as well as size constraints for a wristband.

  • Different users preferred different levels of pressure, hence inspiration was taken from watch bands to give users the flexibility on the level of pressure they desire

  • Users sometimes took a few seconds to realize the start of feedback, hence some repetition was required to ensure the proper delivery of signals

  • The feedback stops when users turn or after 3 cycles


  • Left - Left side moves clockwise

  • Right - Right side moved anti-clockwise

  • Straight - Both sides move towards the top of the wrist

  • Turn around - Both sides move towards the back of the wrist

  • For angled roads, the wheels move on the side the user needs to turn to along with different durations of vibrations to convey that it is not a complete turn 



I learned how to use a 3D modeling software (Blender) and experimented with a few forms


I 3D printed the first model as it could accommodate the mechanism required and built a prototype of my concept


While the solution was designed specifically for visually impaired users, this design also provides a less distracting way of navigation while driving or riding so the user's attention can solely be on the road.

Future Scope


Build in obstacle detection and guidance for visually impaired users

Credits for icons used:

• Reading by Andrejs Kirma  • interview by Justin Blake • Idea by Sweetline Graphic • Scissors by Eucalyp 

• Gears by Bakunetsu Kaito • hammering nail by Umer Younas • driving by Kevin • Future by Kamin Ginkaew

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