There are almost two million people in the UK living with visual impairment, according to Access Economics. Visual impairment is sight loss that cannot be fully corrected using glasses or contact lenses.
One of the greater challenges with visual impairment is independent travel and navigation. There are quite a few accessibility offerings in place to assist people, from guide dogs to venue staff who are ready to help, however according to Transport for London, the visually impaired youth want to explore the opportunities technology can bring for the independence it can create.
True independence is being able to navigate a station or airport using one’s sense of touch and hearing combined with whatever useful vision an individual possesses.
To aid this, there have been a number of physical developments to the transport environments, such as tactile strips, audio announcements and high contrast railings and stairways. However, unless the complete process has been upgraded then one small step can let the others down and make the benefits much less useful. Things like locating the train doors on the platform are clearly a vital part of the journey, yet difficult to do safely without assistance..
Our friends at UsTwo have begun to explore what could change lives for the better. Using signals that can be picked up by smartphones and mobile devices transmitted by Beacons, they created an app that aims to assist the blind and partially sighted people to navigate independently underground. This project was started from the desire of the RLSB Youth Forums to get independent navigation. (Royal London Society for the Blind People – or maybe not show it and just hotlink their acronym)
Through receiving the signals from the beacons, the user can locate themselves within chosen London Underground stations and get audible directions to their destination. This gives the visually impaired the ability to use technology to their advantage and navigate independently.
Location, location and location. It’s been the holy grail for marketers for the last several years, but we are now seeing its potential in life changing applications.
Another company that’s working on technologies that will aid this topic is GiveVision. They claim to have developed the World’s First Blind-friendly user interface for Smart Glasses, and in their concept videos you can see very promising functionalities, such as image recognition and real time text to speech conversions that enables the users to hear through their headsets, and thus give another level of insight as to their surroundings.
Here at Pointr we are working hard to bring the advantages of indoor positioning and navigation to all types of devices, both in visual and audio form. Stay tuned to Pointr for some very exciting updates within this area.