Sensaura Empowers Extrasensory Navigation Beyond Vision

Designer Sophie Horrocks began to experience the world differently after working on research with the blind and partially sighted users across Tokyo, New York and London, noting the need for intuitive, non-visual navigation solutions which would tie users and world through technology. Her solution: Sensaura, a fashionable wearable device designed to translate visual information into a language of spatial audio cues.

Sensaura designer, Sophie Horrock

Horrocks’ Sensaura is a three-piece system with the appearance of contemporary jewelry, discretely operating as an integrated system which can “detect, process and feedback environmental information needed for navigation”. The trio of sensors allow the wearer to gain extrasensory information about objects in front of them, while also offering feedback about obstacles, drops and steps underfoot for hands-free navigation.

While its concept iteration is presented in a most fashionable design, the technology is also envisioned to be applied to contexts well beyond everyday life. For example, firefighters tasked to navigate low-to-zero vision, smoke-filled environments would benefit from the aid of such extrasensory and intuitive hands-free navigation within both open and enclosed spaces.

I’m a human-centered designer and researcher. I believe that design has the power to improve human quality of life. In order to achieve this though, we must recognize the value of empathy-driven, not just evidence-based design.

-Sophie Horrocks

Horrocks envisions Sensaura could work independently or switch over to connected to GPS-enabled networks of beacons depending upon the whether the environment allows a signal.

These efforts toward greater inclusivity have not gone unnoticed, earning Horrocks the Helen Hamlyn Award for Creativity, bestowed by the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design. For additional information about Sensaura and Horrocks other projects, check out her site or Instagram.

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