HaptiVision V1.0

HaptiVision 1.0 prototype


HaptiVision is a device created to assist the visually impaired in navigating through their environment. Traditional walking canes only provide spatial information in the direct walking path of the user. HaptiVision is designed to make up for the shortcomings of the walking cane by providing spatial information in whichever direction the user desires. The device measures the distance to an object in front of it, and then powers a vibration motor accordingly. The closer an object is to the device, the harder the motor vibrates.

The device consists of three major systems - the rangefinder system, the microcontroller system, and the vibration motor system. The rangefinder system contains the sensor used for measuring distances. HaptiVision currently uses a Parallax Ping ultrasonic rangefinder. This rangefinder then feeds the distance data to the microcontroller system, containing an Atmel ATMega328 microcontroller. After processing the distance data, the microcontroller outputs a PWM signal to the vibration motor system, which contains the transistor and pager motor used to create the vibrations.

The HaptiVision device is intended to be worn either on the side of the head or on the wrist. Users can point their head or wrist in all directions and receive tactile feedback about their surroundings.


In September 2010, HaptiVision was declared the grand prize winner of the Popular Science National School Inventors Challenge. It was featured in the October 2010 issue of Popular Science magazine. Here is the proposal I submitted.

Future Work

This kind of single-point detection and vibration system can be greatly improved. A version 1.5 device is in the works, using a smaller rangefinder, circuit board, and battery.

HaptiVision V2.0

HaptiVision 2.0 CAD drawing

HaptiVision 2.0 has the same general idea of distance to vibration from HaptiVision 1.0, however this version expands the design considerably. A scanning laser rangefinder mounted on a tilting base will provide 3D distance data to the user. To transfer this data, a matrix of vibration motors will provide real-time data of the various distances simultaneously.

Specification Version 1.0 Version 2.0
Cost (for prototype, not production) $50.00 $1500.00
Area measured Single point 270 degree horizontal
Rangefinder Parallax PING ultrasonic Hokuyo URG-04LX-UG01 scanning laser
Main processor ATmega328 microcontroller Laptop (Core 2 Duo)
Feedback Single vibration motor 8x8 matrix of vibration motors