Skip to Full Menu

Providing information, education, and training to build knowledge, develop skills, and change attitudes that will lead to increased independence, productivity, self determination, integration and inclusion (IPSII) for people with developmental disabilities and their families.

Reports That "Seeing Shoes" Will Replace Walking Sticks And Guide Dogs Might Be Premature
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
August 22, 2006

HONG KONG--Researchers at Hong Kong Polytechnic University have invented a new device that uses echolocation -- the same technology bats use -- to help blind people navigate without worrying about bumping into obstacles.

The device includes a pair of high-tech shoes, which send out ultrasonic waves that bounce off vertical objects and back to receivers in the shoes. A built-in computer calculates the distances to those obstacles, and then causes the shoe to vibrate to warn the wearer that the objects are near, with the intensity of the vibration increasing as the wearer gets closer to the objects.

A built-in Global Positioning System (GPS) will also tell wearers where they are and announce directions.

News stories have applauded the invention, saying it would do away with the need for white walking sticks or canes and guide dogs.

As in other cases where technology has been touted as a way to eliminate problems associated with disability, some blind people are not so quick to jump to burying their canes or firing their guide dogs.

For example, Chow Wing-Cheung told the Sunday Morning Post, "There are so many bumps in Hong Kong's road. If I wear the shoes I will end up shaking and vibrating all day."

"'Seeing shoes' stomp out need for white canes" (Cosmos)
"'Seeing shoes' threaten guide dogs' jobs" (China Daily)


©2018 The Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities
 370 Centennial Office Building  658 Cedar Street   St. Paul, Minnesota 55155 
Phone: 651.296.4018   Toll-free number: 877.348.0505   MN Relay Service: 800.627.3529 OR 711   Fax: 651.297.7200 
Email:   View Privacy Policy   An Equal Opportunity Employer 

The GCDD is funded under the provisions of P.L. 106-402. The federal law also provides funding to the Minnesota Disability Law Center,the state Protection and Advocacy System, and to the Institute on Community Integration, the state University Center for Excellence. The Minnesota network of programs works to increase the IPSII of people with developmental disabilities and families into community life.