Make Your Own Ultrasonic Bat Glove from Volume 29

Tacit: Haptic Wrist Rangefinder from MAKE Volume 29

Tacit: Haptic Wrist Rangefinder from MAKE Volume 29

When Steve Hoefer sent in his prototype of the Tacit haptic wrist rangefinder, we had a field day with it taking turns walking around MAKE headquarters with our eyes closed. Using it is super intuitive: with your hand extended, the servos vibrate as you get closer to an object, like a wall, and alert you to stop or change route. The closer the object, the greater pressure Tacit puts on your wrist. Steve wrote up the project for us and it appears on the pages of the current issue, MAKE Volume 29, a perfect fit for the DIY Superhuman theme.

The best part of Steve’s intro is when he talks about the first version of Tacit he made:

My first version of Tacit was a headband with vibration motors that ran faster when objects came closer. But this design had a distracting “mad science” look, and most obstacles, like furniture, are below head level. I also found that motors vibrating against your skull will quickly drive you insane. I realized that it was my own sighted prejudice to want to attach vision-simulating sensors to the head. The hand is more directable and useful, and putting a device on the back of the wrist leaves the fingers free.

Here’s Steve describing the deets of how Tacit works:

We’ve shared the full build instructions with you on Make: Projects so you can get started right away. To tap more of your Superhuman potential, pick up a copy of Volume 29, on newsstands now.

From the pages of MAKE Volume 29:

MAKE Volume 29

We have the technology (to quote The Six Million Dollar Man), but commercial tools for exploring, assisting, and augmenting our bodies really can approach a price tag of $6 million. Medical and assistive tech manufacturers must pay not just for R&D, but for expensive clinical trials, regulatory compliance, and liability — and doesn’t help with low pricing that these devices are typically paid for through insurance, rather than purchased directly. But many gadgets that restore people’s abilities or enable new “superpowers” are surprisingly easy to make, and for tiny fractions of the costs of off-the-shelf equivalents. MAKE Volume 29, the “DIY Superhuman” issue, explains how.


8 thoughts on “Make Your Own Ultrasonic Bat Glove from Volume 29

  1. Este guante te permite ‘ver’ en la oscuridad, te convierte en un murciélago humano says:

    […] De momento solo se trata de un prototipo con un aspecto bastante aparatoso realizado por Steve Hoefer, un diseñador que quizás vea cómo su interesante invento acaba viendo la luz comercialmente algún día. [Make] […]

  2. Ultrasonic Bat Glove Makes You a Genuine Dark Knight | The Gadget Blogger says:

    […] might not be able to monitor an entire city, but Steve Hoefer’s brilliant sonar glove will at least let you get to the bathroom at night without stubbing your toe, thanks to an […]

  3. Pete Davies says:

    Awesome! And strangely familiar – here’s my engineering batchelor’s project from 2006:

    The following year we entered it in some competitions

    Shame we couldn’t get it to market, our testing with blind users showed this kind of device could be a real help to the visually impaired. Maybe MAKE publicity will get the concept into production!

  4. Rats Detect Light Without Sight - Parapsychology and alternative medicine forums of says:

    […] Yeah, my understanding was that they hooked up infrared sensors to optical nerve. The ability that seemed interesting was that they fairly quickly were able to map the new sensory input and use the information and could do so with or without light in the normal visual range. In some sense this is similar to having a seeing impaired person with some distance locating device that gives signals either through touch or hearing. Simple example here. […]

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I'm a word nerd who loves to geek out on how emerging technology affects the lexicon. I was an editor on the first 40 volumes of MAKE, and I love shining light on the incredible makers in our community. In particular, covering art is my passion — after all, art is the first thing most of us ever made. When not fawning over perfect word choices, I can be found on the nearest mountain, looking for untouched powder fields and ideal alpine lakes.

Contact me at or via @snowgoli.

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