• ESRI
  • Google
  • Nokia
  • Yahoo! Inc.
  • AND Automotive Navigation Data
  • earthmine
  • First American Spatial Solutions
  • NAVTEQ
  • Waze
  • Google
  • NAVTEQ

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Tactile Navigation Belt

Tactile Sight Inc., a University of Waterloo spinoff
company, provides sensory substitution systems that
map location and object sensing technologies & per-
cepts into haptics (touch). Our current product offering
is the Tactile ‘navigation’ Belt™, a wearable belt that
conveys location sensed a GPS system in tactile form.
It is like Google maps without your eyes; you feel
nudges around your waist to direct you to your des-
tination. The Tactile Belt helps people navigate when
they have limitations or are overloaded with sensory or
cognitive information.

The Tactile navigation Belt is initially targeted as an
Assistive navigation device for people that are blind
or people who suffer from Alzheimer’s. Its main ad-
vantages over existing products is that the Tactile Belt
minimizes cognitive engagement and potential dis-
traction with the navigation task. Existing aids for
people who are blind require the person to be cogni-
tively engaged. This creates a safety risk. Existing
aids for people with Alzheimer’s only convey location
information to a caregiver & provide no guidance to
the user.

The Tactile Belt provides independence, freedom and
an improvement in the quality of life for people who
are blind and people who suffer from Alzheimer’s.
Besides the Assistive Device marketplace, other ap-
plication markets include first responders, military and
recreational use.

Photo of John Zelek

John Zelek

University of Waterloo

John Zelek is Associate Professor (in Systems Design Engineering at the University of Waterloo), with expertise in the area of intelligent Mechatronic control systems that interface with humans; specifically, the areas are (1) wearable sensory substitution and assistive devices; (2) probabilistic visual and tactile perception; (3) wearable haptic devices including their design, synthesis and analysis; and (4) human-robot interaction. He was awarded the best paper award at the 2007 Iinternational IEEE/IAPRS Computer and Robot Vision conference. He was awarded a 2006 & 2008 Distinguished Performance Award from the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Waterloo. He was also awarded the 2004 Young Investigator Award by the Canadian Image Processing & Pattern Recognition society for his work in robotic vision. He is also the CTO for Tactile Sight Inc.