Swimming Aid for the Blind and Visually-Impaired

Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, 2005 - $5,150

This E-Team developed a swimming aid for the blind and visually impaired that alerts the swimmer when a wall is approaching. The device consists of a small wireless headset attached to the swimmer’s goggle strap. The headset receives signals from two units placed on opposing walls of the lane; when triggered, the headset relays an audible warning through a waterproof earpiece that a wall is approaching. The units also detect a change in the swimmer’s direction, allowing the headset to count laps.

There are no similar devices on the market, but the team has competition from electronic lap counters currently on the market, as well as the “tapper” – a person standing at the end of a swimming lane who uses a long cane to tap the blind swimmer on the shoulder when he/she is approaching the wall. This method is well-installed in the blind and visually impaired community, but the team believes the independence offered by their device gives them an advantage.