Ara is a smart wearable device for the blind and visually impaired. It is designed with an array of sensors (5 ultrasonic sensors, 3 LiDAR sensors) that detect and alert you, through haptics (10 haptic actuators), on upcoming upper, mid, and lower body obstacles, helping you move safely to your next destination.
Ara can be used as a stand-alone mobility device or together with a white cane.
To open the package:
Ara is about the size and shape of a coffee bun, or rather a generous corn muffin. Its actual measurements are 4.3 inches wide by 3.5 inches tall and 2.7 inches thick. It weighs 354 grams. Ara's shape is oval. Its back (the stump part of the muffin) is easily identified by padding (haptic foam) which is meant to rest against your chest. Its front (the wider crown of the muffin) is made from rough textured plastic inlaid with several indentations which house its sensors. There are five clear round indentations: one centered, the others at north, south, east and west positions on the face of the unit; and there are three other indentations related to these sensors. We will look at the sensors' precise locations next.
We encourage you to get to know the device in as much detail as possible. Before you manipulate Ara, please make sure to clean your hands thoroughly because dirty fingers may hinder the performance of some of the sensors. Also, please remember to be gentle when touching the sensors and when pressing the buttons.
Take the device with both hands and feel its weight, dimensions, materials and look for the buttons. Once all that is done, we would love for you to truly understand Ara's anatomy. Please be so kind so as to follow these descriptive steps:
Once we have pinpointed the exact location of all sensors and buttons, let us do a quick recap. Ara's main core is made up of 5 ultrasonic sensors and 3 LIDAR sensors. From the Power Button located at the 12 o'clock position, you will find the Menu button at the 3 o'clock position, the USBC charging port at the 6 o'clock position, the volume rocker at the 9 o'clock position, and the 3.5mm headphone jack just above the volume rocker.
The Power Button can be found at the 12 o'clock position at the very top of the device. This button is large and easily identifiable. It is made with texturized plastic with a distinct groove running through the middle.
The Menu Button is located at the 3 o'clock position or to the right of the device (assuming Ara's sensors are facing the user). The menu button is one solid piece made out of smooth plastic without any grooves or indentations.
You will find a small USB-C Charging port at the 6 o'clock position at the bottom of the device. This connexion port is meant for a USB-C cable. The user will plug USB-C cable into this port to charge Ara's battery.
The Volume Rocker Button is located at the 9 o'clock position to the left of the device (assuming Ara's sensors are facing the user). The rocker button is made out of smooth plastic. The button can be pressed up or down.
The headphone jack is a small and round indentation designed to plug headphones in. This port is located right above the volume rocker to the left of the device (assuming Ara's sensors are facing the user).
The armband is the way to identify yourself as visually impaired or blind, this will allow people to find you and in case of an accident or need for help, act accordingly. This band needs to be worn in the mid-portion of your biceps with the eye icon on the band looking outwards (the eye icon is embossed on the armband). For your own safety, the armband needs to be visible at all times when using Ara.
To wear Ara please follow these steps closely:
Before pressing the power button please double-check the following:
Now you are ready to hit that power button.
The power button is located on the top part of the device easily identifiable by a small grove in the middle. Press and hold on it for x seconds to turn it ON. You will hear an increasing beeping sound. That means Ara is ON. To turn Ara off, press and hold it for 3 seconds and you will hear a decreasing beep. That’s the Power Off confirmation.
To access learning mode press and hold the menu button (left button) for 3 seconds. To exit the learning mode press and hold the same button for x seconds, your earbuds need to be plugged in for learning the mode to start.
To access the WiFi Protected Setup or WPS mode, your device needs to be turned on and charging. On your device press and hold for 3 seconds the volume up button and the menu button (left button) together. To exit the WPS mode, press and hold the power button for 3 seconds, or press and hold for 3 seconds the volume up button and the menu button together (left button).
Press and hold both the menu button (left button) and the power button for 7 seconds. You will hear a beep and a haptic effect looping around your device. Remember to use the Hard Reset option only when your device becomes completely unresponsive.
If you want to use your white cane, press and hold the volume down button for 5 seconds, the bottom sensors will shut down and you will feel a haptic effect on the bottom actuators of the main core. To exit the white cane mode, press and hold the volume down button for 5 seconds. Please remember that currently, the Low Obstacle detection option is in Beta version. This means the White Cane Mode comes activated by default and the downward-looking sensors are turned off.
To deactivate the Smart ON/OFF feature, press and hold the power button and the volume up button for 5 seconds. You will hear a confirmation sound. Should you want to activate this feature again, press and hold the power button and the volume up button for 5 seconds. You will hear a confirmation sound.
Before accessing the WPS mode make sure you have a router/modem with a physical WPS button (If you don’t have a router with features please access https://strap.tech/onboarding). These conditions are mandatory for Ara to access the WPS mode. Once Ara is powered on and charging, please go near your router/modem. You will only have about 60 seconds to pair your device to your wifi network so we suggest you have your Ara device close at hand.
After setting up your internet connection, you will need to access the WPS to update your device. Look at the “Update” section for more detailed instructions. Do NOT press your router/modem’s WPS button since it is already set up for your device and that will only make Ara set its internet connection again.
Ara’s flagship feature is to communicate with the user through haptic feedback, a sequence of vibrations specific to each situation. The haptic feedback has three levels:
There are a total of 10 haptic actuators on the device, 2 actuators by your shoulders (1 on each side), 2 of them by your ribs (1 on each side), and 6 at the center of the device.
There are 3 main obstacle-location categories, high, mid, and low. Depending on the location of the obstacle a set of actuators will vibrate accordingly. For high obstacles the top shoulder actuators, for mid obstacles the main core, and for low obstacles the lateral actuators.
Now that we know the different locations of the actuators, the vibration patterns will convey the type of obstacle. The patterns trigger different actuators in sequence at different frequencies to give precise information on your surroundings. For instance, every obstacle rising from the floor triggers 3 short pulses, and obstacles going down such as a flight of stairs will trigger a downward vibratory response.
Frequency helps us determine the distance from the obstacle in three different levels.
Level 1 Far Distance: Low-frequency vibrations.
Level 2 Mid Distance: Mid-frequency vibrations.
Level 3 Close Distance: High-frequency vibrations.
In conclusion, by integrating all three levels we will know where the obstacle is located relative to your body height, get an idea of what that object is, and how far away you are from it.
The learning mode is an interactive tutorial that will teach the basics of the device, its anatomy, navigation, how to access each feature (Obstacle detection, APS, Smart On/Off, etc.), and also how each feature works. To access the learning mode, plug in your headphones and press and hold the menu button (left button) for 3 seconds. To navigate the Learning mode, press the menu button once to play or pause, press the menu button twice to skip ahead, and press the menu button three times to go back on track. When you have completed the learning mode Ara will exit this modality and start the obstacle detection functionality. You can always access the Learning mode by holding the menu button for 3 seconds.
Note: Learning mode is only a quick-start guide, further practice and training with the device are required in order to use it properly. At the moment Learning mode in Ara is only available in English, for other languages click here.
Obstacle detection is Ara’s main feature, using the array of sensors inside the device together with our obstacle detection algorithm, Ara is able to detect obstacles in the low, mid, and top regions of the body, including stairs going up and down and more.
Obstacle detection communicates with you through haptic feedback with a unique set of haptic patterns depending on the position and type of obstacle in front of you. Ara will vibrate whenever there is an obstacle in front of you, the vibration will increase in frequency and intensity the closer you get to the obstacle and decrease in frequency and intensity the further you get from it.
Note: Learning mode explains more in-depth each obstacle-dependent vibration pattern.
Head obstacles are all obstacles found from the top of the head to your shoulders, such as branches, open windows, street signs, etc.
Head obstacles Haptic pattern: The haptic actuators located in your shoulders will trigger 3 short pulse vibrations and loop back until you pass the obstacle. The closer you are to the obstacle the less time between each vibration. The further away you are from the obstacle, the more time between vibrations.
Mid obstacles are all obstacles that may impact your mid section or your whole body. These obstacles may be difficult to avoid by going over or under them. Here we can find things like walls, poles, railings, people, phone booths, cars, etc.
Mid obstacles Haptic pattern: The haptic actuators located in the center of the haptic foam will trigger 3 short pulse vibrations and loop back until you pass the obstacle, the closer you are to the obstacle the less time between each vibration. The further away you are from the obstacle, the more time between vibrations.
Low obstacles are obstacles below your waist, such as benches, chairs, sidewalk curbs, desks, stairs, and holes. The haptic pattern you will feel depends on whether the obstacle is protruding (upstairs, curbs, steps) or recessed (downstairs, holes, or curbs) from the floor level.
Protruding-floor obstacles haptic pattern: Ara will trigger 3 short pulse vibrations on the side-haptic actuators and loop back until you pass the obstacle. The closer you are to the obstacle the less time between each vibration. The further away you are from the obstacle, the more time between vibrations.
Recessed-floor obstacles haptic patterns: Ara will trigger a ramp-down vibration pattern and loop back until you pass the obstacle, the closer you are to the obstacle the less time between each vibration. The further away you are from the obstacle, the more time between vibrations.
Note: Obstacles listed herein are only examples. Ara is able to detect many more obstacles than the ones listed in each category.
The intensity of the haptic pattern increases and decreases accordingly depending on the distance between you and the object. The furthest detection distance is 2.5 meters ~ 8.2 feet or approximately 3 steps* while the closest distance is at arms reach, 25 centimeters ~ 10 inches.
Note: Steps are not an exact measurement unit, they are only used as a reference.
Ara’s obstacle-detection system increases or decreases its detection range automatically depending on the speed you are walking at. Ara can detect at 3 different speeds:
Note: These are only recommendations to get a better understanding of the product. At the end of the day, you need to find what works best for you.
Smart on/off is a feature that saves Ara’s battery by automatically putting the device in standby mode by turning off the sensors and haptic actuators when you stop moving (walking or making strong abrupt movements) for 3.5 seconds approximately, and turning them back on when you start moving again1 (after you take the first step or make a strong/harsh movement (like stomping the ground). This feature will become available 15 seconds after turning on the device with the power button.
Note: We strongly recommend you turn on and off Ara manually to ensure a longer battery life. Smart ON/OFF can be turned off but Ara’s battery life will be impacted drastically.
Please make sure Ara is powered on before walking. You will know the device has been turned on when you hear a beep. If the device doesn’t turn on immediately please take a deliberate step or stomp on the ground.
When you access the White Cane Mode, Ara will shut down all its bottom sensors and allow you to walk with your cane or any mobility aid below your waist; like a white cane or a seeing-eye dog. Ara will still work normally in the top, and mid sections. To access this mode, after activating Ara, press and hold the volume-down button for 5 seconds. You will hear a confirmation notification and a haptic effect on the lower part of the device. You can go back to full obstacle detection simply by pressing and holding the volume-down button for 5 seconds again.
By default, the White Cane mode will come activated from the box. You will need to manually activate the downward-looking sensors by pressing and holding the volume-down button for 3 seconds while being out of the learning mode. However please be advised that the downward-looking sensors are still in Beta version.
In order to update your device, Ara needs to be charging. First, you will need to turn on your device and access WPS mode by pressing and holding for 3 seconds the volume up button and the menu button (left button). Provided Ara has the necessary authorizations, it will start looking for an update.
Note: Do not charge Ara while wearing it or while using it. Do not use power banks. Do not unplug the charger, turn on or off, or use while updating.
Ara’s battery is designed to last a whole day of normal use. Ara will report on the battery status every time you turn it on. If you make a fast press on the power button it will beep 4 times, this means your device is fully charged at 100% battery, 3 times when it is at 75%, 2 times when you have 50% left and 1 time when the battery is at 25% or less. If you hear a long 2-second beep, that means the battery is drained and needs to be charged immediately.
Ara’s charging cycle is about 4 hours. To keep the battery healthy and in optimum performance, we suggest using Anker’s PowerPort 2 Elite charger (not included)or another 24W charger (at your own risk). The battery must not be at 0% charge for long. Doing this might negatively impact Ara’s battery and shorten its lifespan.
Note: Do not leave the device plugged in if the battery is fully charged.
Ara’s optimum temperature conditions are between 15 ºC and 38 ºC approximately, and it benefits from dry-weather conditions. Humid weather may shorten the lifespan of the device since it is not waterproof.
Note: Stop using Ara when there is rain to prevent water damage.
Ara works best when you wear thin and light items of clothing, thick and heavy clothes like winter jackets may dampen the vibrations coming from the device, resulting in a poor user experience. Ara can be worn under an open jacket provided the jacket does not block the sensor's field of vision.
By using our device you agree to our terms and conditions.