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A vibrating aid for the autonomy of visually impaired swimmers

What it does

Argo is an open source project designed to increase the autonomy of visually impaired swimmers by signalling their turn and orientation in the pool through different vibrations.

Your inspiration

People with disabilities are increasingly entering the world of adapted swimming because of its many advantages. Currently, the way to communicate with blind swimmers during their activity is very rudimentary or difficult to access, so it is useful to respond to this need with a technology that is within the reach of everyone regardless of their socio-economic status.

How it works

In addition to the wearable device, which attaches to the swimming goggles, Argo is a portable container consisting of three elements: a wireless charging station that doubles as a case for the wearable device, and two twin devices containing the laser and the sensor to be placed at the edge of the pool. The wearable device communicates with the swimmer via three small vibration motors contained in an ergonomically shaped device that attaches to normal swimming goggles and fastens to the back of the neck. A laser and a photocell placed on opposite sides of the pool detect the swimmer's movements and help him/her orientate along the straight lane, alerting him/her when he/she approaches the edge of the pool.

Design process

The design process saw a first phase of dialogue with a blind swimmer, after which it was possible to deduce various critical aspects of her sporting activity: the comparison with the athlete, and subsequently also with her coach, was constant and fundamental for the rest of the design phase to understand the constraints and potential to be considered in order to arrive effectively at the most optimal solution. The result was a compact and functional device, with materials available on the market so that the user could create (and customize) their own device independently: from 3D printing for the supporting body, to silicone for the waterproof protective cover and up to the Arduino technology, the processes to be put into practice to compose Argo have been designed to be as simple and clear as possible, also thanks to an efficient communication part, that is a booklet for the realization, a user manual in large characters and a user manual in Braille code. In addition to the wearable design, Argo is composed of three boxes which, if stacked, form the product packaging and wireless charging for the device at the same time.

How it is different

Unlike the products currently on the market, Argo stands out first of all for its accessibility and ease of implementation, as it is an open source project. Secondly, as well as signalling the end of the pool lane with an ultrasound sensor, it is also able to tell the swimmer his orientation thanks to a signalling system made up of two lasers and two photocells that perceive the interruption of the light signal and therefore the presence of an obstacle, as well as the swimmer's body, thus warning him to move away from the floats to avoid injury.

Future plans

Argo is the result of a project on the open source technology platform POSTA Project, and since it is also an open source product, it can be found on the same platform. Having made this project available to everyone, we hope that it can be implemented and therefore improved by anyone who wishes to try their hand at this stimulating and satisfying field.


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