A New Technology for A New Challenge:Japan Guide Dog Association

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A New Technology for A New Challenge

2019. 7. 11 News

The Introduction of the Tele-Vibration Indication System

At the IGDF Seminar in Hvar, Croatia in 2016, Sam Tawada, our Chief Director of Training, shared his work on Wearable Devices. One of them was the Tele-Vibration Indication System, and it was developed to instruct guide dog mobility for our deaf-blind clients during class. And Sam and Hiroyuki, Manager of IT department, were encouraged to have a good-sized audience fill the small workshop room at the venue.

Seminar Logo 2016_466x108

During class instruction, Sam has witnessed the bright expression on our deaf-blind client when he received the information from the instructor through the device from a distance. It was his first time in a while to be able to communicate with someone without any support from others. This experience encouraged Sam and his team to develop this device to a much useful and reliable level.

They have continued working on it with the manufacturer, and have improved the following conditions in the past year:

1. VIBRATION strength of the receiver was increased and is much clearer
2. SIZE of the wrist receiver got smaller, almost to the size of a watch
3. TIME LAG between the transmitter to receiver was diminished
4. A new BUTTON was added to vibrate both of the receivers at the same time

Tele-Vibration Indication System 3_450x297


Guide dog mobility for visually impaired people at JGDA involves confirmation of the following three conditions through harness handle and environmental information:

  • CORNER of the buildings and streets to indicate direction to the dog
  • CURB to indicate ascending and descending curbs and stairs
  • ground, over-head and dynamic OBSTACLES

Guide Work Corner_450x299

However, deaf-blind people cannot obtain auditory information, so they depend mainly on the movement of the harness handle, in addition to residual senses including tactile sensation (i.e. wind, ground condition from sole of the foot).

With the Tele-Vibration Indication System, an instructor is able to communicate to deaf-blind student from a distance while doing harness handle work at the beginning of class. During class, the student may make mistakes and give wrong directions to the dog. The instructor could communicate to the student to point their right hand to the direction they intends to go, and if it’s correct, the instructor sends the OK signal through the transmitter. Then the student could confidently show the dog which way to go, and give appropriate Good/No feedback to the dog. Even during a recall session indoors, with the help of the Tele-Vibration Indication System, our client was excited to realize that the dog reacted to his vocal direction by running into his arms from a distance.

There are only three patterns of vibration: right wrist, left wrist and both wrists.

We assigned simple signals:

- short vibration on left or right wrist for DIRECTION
- short vibration on both wrists for OK
- long vibration on both wrists for STOP
- long vibration on the right wrist for OVER to the shoreline on the left side
- a long vibration on the left wrist for PRAISING the dog through words or pats


We feel that it is useful for instruction of non-deaf clients as well, for example, walking through the crowd while the instructor follows them from a distance. The client can confirm whether what they are doing is OK through the receiver. This way, we could build up confidence for independent mobility for our clients and dogs before they graduate.

We are looking forward to supporting our deaf-blind client with innovations to improve their mobility.



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