SNaSI (Social Navigation through Subtle Interactions) is a wearable system to help blind people in face-to-face interactions. Assistive systems for the blind have been an important area of research in the wearable community for many decades. Most of those systems focus on spatial navigation issues. In the last few years, we start noticing a move toward technologies to assist the blind with social navigation. Most of those systems treat social navigation the same way as spatial navigation, focusing mainly on utilitarian aspects of human interaction (what is needed to obtain information, what information is exchanged, etc.).
In this project we argue that when moving into this space we need to think about social accessibility and respect of human connection first because, most of the time, face-to-face interaction aims primarily to create and reinforce human connection rather than exchanging information. With this in mind, we defend the importance of designing with subtlety in regards of framing, reasoning and design challenges. To this end, we present SNaSI—Social Navigation through Subtle Interactions—a wearable garment designed to help blind and visually impaired people in face-to-face interaction with sighted peers and we describe how our design criteria were guided by subtlety and social acceptability. Designed in collaboration with Microsoft Research UK, HXD group, Morrison Cecily, Huburn Josh, Grayson Martin.