Lizzie Hunter

Sonar smart-band helps people navigate obstacles

A sonar smart-band specifically designed to help people who are blind or have low vision navigate obstacles is now available for sale in Australia.

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Sunu Band is a mobility smart-band with an in-built sonar feature that helps to detect and navigate around objects at and above waist height.

Also described as a technical form of echo-location, the Sunu Band uses vibrations to detect objects between 0.5 and 5.5 metres away and is best used in conjunction with a white cane or dog guide as both mobility aids are great at detecting obstacles below waist height, like changes in elevated levels.

Vision Australia product advisor Tony Wu said the band emits a high-frequency sound wave that bounces off objects the user encounters.

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“The resulting vibratory pattern changes depending on how close or far away the object is to the user. The user feels vibration pulses on the wrist that become more frequent as an object becomes closer,” explained Wu.

Orientation and mobility specialist Jessica Timmons said the arrival of Sunu Band in Australia is great news for people who are blind or have low vision especially because the mobility aid is wearable.

“It’s another tool for the toolbox in helping people navigate and travel independently,” said Timmons.

“We’ve been trialling the Sunu Band with clients and they’ve all enjoyed having a wearable device instead of needing to hold on to an aid or clip something on to their clothes.

“This is especially useful since Sunu Band is great when used with a white cane or Seeing Eye Dog.”

Paired with a smartphone, the user can also access features such as the haptic compass, place finder/explorer and GPS navigation app.

Sunu Band is available exclusively through Vision Australia for $450.

Find out more from visionaustralia.org.

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