Beginning this weekend, some of the world’s finest athletes will descend upon Boston to take part in the city’s famous road racing festivities. Among them will be entrepreneur Fernando Albertorio, who by the way, is legally blind. But that won’t stop him from participating in one of the races — thanks to a new device from his company Sunu, Inc., he will be able to run just like anyone else. At least, here’s hoping. It all rests upon the effectiveness of the
At least, here’s hoping. It all rests upon the effectiveness of the Sunu Band, a sonar smartwatch with haptic feedback that has already won awards for its ability to give visually impaired wearers physical feedback on their surroundings. Sunu claims that the wearable “augments human awareness, perception, and enhances the navigation experience” for those whose vision may not be best.
Now, Albertorio is putting the device to the ultimate test, taking it for a spin in a crowded racing environment. On Saturday, the entrepreneur will be taking part of the Blindfold Challenge at the Boston Athletic Association 5K race as a member of Team With A Vision (TWAV), using the Sunu Band as his guide.
“I’m going to be my own guinea pig,” Albertorio said in a statement. “We have proven the Sunu Band in environments where the wearer is walking outdoors, assisting them in navigating around people and street obstacles, but never running in this concentrated an environment.” While those who are visually impaired normally run with a tethered guide to help them navigate turns and circumvent obstacles, Albertorio will have no such help. A running partner will be nearby in cases of emergency, but otherwise, he is relying solely on his wearable.
The key to the Sunu Band is its sonar sensor, which is combined with precision haptic feedback to ensure the wearer stays aware of objects in his or her vicinity. Featuring more than 10 onboard sensors, the smartwatch is said to enhance the user’s abilities and navigation capabilities.
“Yes, I do want to show people what our product can do, but I especially want to show what people with disabilities can do,” Albertorio said. “We are intelligent, vital people with lives and careers much like your own, only with some added challenges. I want to make those a little less challenging with products like the Sunu Band.”
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