Living with a visual disability can be extremely frustrating, and severely limits the mobility of individuals that require assistance to navigate due to their condition. According to statistics released by the NHS, more than 14 million Americans live with a restrictive visual disability.

Of these 14 million Americans, more than 3.4 million people- roughly 3% of the population- are either clinically blind or have a visual field of less than 20 degrees. For these individuals, everyday tasks can be extremely difficult. While most visually impaired individuals are able to live at home without assistance, but require motility aids in order to navigate the outside environment.

Many individuals that suffer from a vision impairment condition use accessories such as a long cane to get around, but this is an imprecise solution. Guide Dogs are a highly effective solution for individuals with extensive vision loss, but the waiting time for a Guide Dog can be extremely long, and is often more than several years.

Recent technological developments, however, have provided individuals with vision impairment with a wide range of tools and devices that can enhance their independence and mobility. Most of the assistive technology currently available is primarily aimed at making interfacing with technology easier for individuals with vision impairment, and doesn't provide navigation assistance.

The advent of wearable technology has provided a breakthrough in the way assistive tech is able to shape and enhance the mobility of vision impaired individuals. Sunu is the most advanced assistive technology device to hit the market, and uses the power of ultrasonic sonar echolocation technology to help individuals with visual impairment reclaim their independence.

What is Sunu?

Sunu is world’s first wearable designed specifically for individuals with vision impairment. The Sunu Band Sonar Watch takes inspiration from the natural world, using the same navigation techniques employed by bats and dolphins to provide individuals with vision impairment with a “sixth sense” comparable to that of Marvel comics superhero Daredevil.

The Sunu Band Sonar Watch is worn around the wrist, and incorporates cutting-edge sonar technology with haptic feedback that allows individuals with vision impairment conditions to augment their spacial awareness, improving navigation ability, mobility, and independence.

The technology behind the Sunu Band Sonar Watch has been tested extensively by the National Federation of the Blind, Perkins, the Helen Keller Foundation, and the MIT Technology Review’s Innovators Under 35 program.

The Sunu band is the brainchild of Marco Trujillo, founder of the Trujillo Laboratory and graduate of the Gießen University in Germany. Trujillo created the Sunu device to provide individuals with vision impairment with a new way to navigate at an affordable price, and has been awarded with 1st place in the Reto Zapopan 2014 Mexican Innovation competition for his work on the Sunu band.

How the Sunu Band Sonar Smartwatch Works

The Sunu Band Sonar Watch uses advanced vibration sensors to detect ultrasonic sound waves emitted by the band itself, which it then translates into spatial awareness information through an advanced algorithm. Each Sunu Band Sonar Watch is fitted with an ultrasonic sensor and a precision haptic driver that is used to notify wearers when they are approaching an obstacle.

The device offers real time feedback at 30 frames per second, and can detect objects up to 13 feet away. The Sunu Band Sonar Watch also supports hand gesture recognition, and boasts a powerful LiPo battery that allows for up to 12 hours of continuous use. The battery of the Sunu Band Sonar Watch also uses convenient wireless charging that eliminates fiddling with charger cords.

One of the most unique functions of the Sunu Band Sonar Watch is the SunuTAG. Users are able to pair the Sunu Band Sonar Watch with a SunuTAG device that can be placed on objects such as keys, smartphones, wallets, or doors, guiding individuals with vision impairment conditions to the tag via haptic feedback.

Sunu Verdict

The Sunu Band Sonar Watch is a highly innovative solution that is set to transform the way individuals with vision impairment conditions navigate the world around them. Although the Sunu solution is a game-changer for vision assistance technology, it carries a relatively small price tag, and is available for $249.00 USD via the Sunu website.


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