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A Laser Guided Swimming Lane Aid



Story

People with visual impairments can face difficulties staying within their designated lanes in a swimming pool for several reasons:


1. Lack of Visual Cues: Swimming lanes are typically separated by visible lane ropes or markers on the pool floor. People with visual impairments cannot rely on these visual cues to stay in their lanes.

2. Spatial Awareness: Swimming requires a good sense of spatial awareness to stay within the confines of a lane. Visual cues help sighted swimmers maintain their orientation, but individuals with visual impairments must rely on other senses and strategies.

3. Navigational Challenges: In addition to staying within a lane, swimmers with visual impairments need to navigate the pool safely to avoid collisions with lane ropes, other swimmers, or pool walls.

4. Orientation: Swimming in a straight line can be challenging when a swimmer cannot see their surroundings. Without visual references, it's easy to veer off course and move toward the center or sides of the pool.


Solution

Developing a laser sheet-based guidance system for swimmers with visual impairments to remain within their lanes holds great potential. This innovative system can offer either haptic or auditory cues to assist swimmers in maintaining their orientation while in the pool. The setup requires the installation of two line lasers (parallel beams) in the pool, emitting red laser light within the 650nm to 668nm wavelength range. To make this system work, swimmers will wear two specialized devices equipped with photodiodes, a fresnel lens, and a basic microcontroller unit (MCU) capable of providing haptic feedback. Here's how it functions: As the swimmer approaches the laser line or sheet, the fresnel lens focuses the laser light onto the photodiode. A plastic color filter ensures that the photodiode only reacts to the laser light of a specific wavelength. When the photodiode detects this light, the wearable device immediately delivers haptic feedback to the swimmer, serving as a tactile indicator to help them stay within their lane effectively. This technology represents an exciting innovation that can significantly enhance the swimming experience for individuals with visual impairments, offering them a reliable means of maintaining their course and orientation in the pool.


A brief explanation of the project is available on my Hackster page. This project was part of Build2gether Inclusive Innovation Challenge organized by ETH Zurich, Blues, Google, M5Stack, PCBWay & Useful Sensors and was awarded runner-up.

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