The BuzzClip is a small and discreet wearable for people that are blind or partially sighted. The device uses ultrasound to detect obstacles that may lie directly in one’s path. It then notifies the user of these obstacles through intuitive vibrations, allowing the user to safely navigate around any objects that they may encounter.
What is the Need?
BuzzClip: What is the Need?
The BuzzClip offers essential head level obstacle detection and can be easily attached to many forms of clothing, making it a highly versatile and useful device. Orientation and Mobility is difficult for a person living with blindness or partial sight. In cities, there can be many hazardous obstacles scattered all over that are difficult to detect. Navigating around busy streets with construction signs, barriers, promotional signboards and tree branches has always been a daily challenge for those living with vision loss.
A major pain point that needs to be addressed is detecting obstacles above the waist, particularly at the head level. Traditional aids such as a cane or a guide dog do not always address these issues. As a result, accidents are a frequent problem for someone living with blindness or loss of vision.
Moreover, due to the social stigma attached with visual impairment, for those who are partially sighted, there are no solutions at all. Many of these individuals tend to opt out of using a cane or a guide dog as they do not want to stand out in public or be perceived as someone that needs help.
The Rounded Top (A)
This rounded enclosure is the main control panel for the BuzzClip and can be found at the top of the device. The sensor is housed here and it slightly protrudes out of the rounded enclosure. The buttons are located to the left and right of the sensor.
The Main Body (B)
This is where the battery, circuit board and charging port are housed. The main body has a chamfered edge around it so you can run your finger along it to find the Micro-USB charging port.
The Vibrational Arm (C)
This part is always in contact with your body, so you can easily feel the vibrations. It is located at the back or bottom of the device. The arm has a rounded rectangular protrusion that houses the vibration motor. This arm can be opened or closed through a simple push and pull motion so that you can adjust it in order to ensure proper contact with your body while you wear it.
All aspects of the BuzzClip from its design to its functionality have been created with users in mind. It is a new spin on existing ultrasound technology and can dramatically change the lives of people living with blindness or severe vision loss, particularly for those who have just recently lost their vision. It is an extremely practical mobility tool that can reduce fears of traveling and it provides a reliable way to inform a user of their immediate surroundings and prevent collisions.
The BuzzClip is not a replacement for a cane but a complementary mobility tool. It is intended to be used in combination with a cane or a guide dog. For those who frequently travel with a cane or a guide dog, we recommend using the BuzzClip to address upper body and head level obstacles while the cane can address changes in elevation and lower obstacles. The BuzzClip can also be used on its own for when in familiar indoor environments and for people living with partial sight who do not use a cane or a guide dog.
The BuzzClip can accurately detect anything coming into its range of detection. The sensor ensures that the distance to any nearby obstacles is accurately measured regardless of lighting conditions or transparency of the object. It does this by sending and receiving sound waves. The received information is then relayed back to the user instantly through intuitive vibrations.
The angle of detection is a conical shape from the center of the sensor (mesh within circular ring) and the BuzzClip has two ranges of detection: a 1-meter mode and a 2-meter mode. When the BuzzClip is clipped around your upper body or chest area, it will detect any oncoming obstacles covering from about your waist till just the top of your head in the 2-meter mode. The frequency and intensity of the vibrations from the BuzzClip increase as you get closer to an obstacle (and vice versa). The BuzzClip delivers three strong rapid vibrations when it is 50 cm (arm’s length) away from an obstacle as an indication to stop and proceed with caution as there is something that is now less than 50 cm away from you.
The rounded top where the sensor and buttons are housed can be slightly pulled away from the main body due to an angled spring clip. Your clothes are to go in between this space that separates the rounded top from the main body of the BuzzClip. Please ensure that your clothing goes all the way to the end of the bend in the angled spring clip so that it is securely fastened onto your person. The main body and the vibrational arm always go under or between your clothing. Only the rounded top with the sensor and the buttons should be exposed on the outside of your clothing (i.e. on the lapel of a jacket, between the buttons on a shirt or blouse, on the rounded neck of a t-shirt, on the beltline, out of pockets, on the sleeves of a shirt, etc.)
The spring loaded arm can be easily opened and locked through a simple push and pull motion. The vibrator motor, at the end of this arm, is encircled in a sweat proof enclosure. This allows the intuitive vibrations to be isolated, providing a stronger response signal to the user. Ideal for when one is wearing loose clothing. The BuzzClip can be worn many different ways based on one’s mobility needs. It can be easily clipped onto shirts, t-shirts, on sleeves (long or short), sweaters, jeans, sweatpants, and more.
Always ensure that the sensor is exposed outwards and is not covered by anything so that you do not receive any false positive responses. Ensure that the sensor is parallel to your body as possible. For example, if you are wearing a buttoned up shirt, make sure that the sensor is parallel to your chest and that it is not tilted to the left or right. Ensure that you are able to operate both buttons on the BuzzClip from where you are wearing it.
Multiple BuzzClips can also be used at once for greater coverage around one’s body. This would give a blind or partially sighted user much more information about their immediate surroundings. For example, one on the chest and one on each sleeve in order to protect your front and sides. The Spring Clip ensures stable and secure attachment to many forms of clothing. It has been designed with an angle so that when one is wearing thicker winter clothing, the sensor remains parallel to their body.