Indoor Navigation for Visually Impaired

Indoor Navigation for Visually Impaired

As per the World Health Organization, 285 Million people are Visually Impaired across the globe. The figure is 5 times the population of United Kingdom and 50 times the population of Denmark. Technology is definitely helping them to offer better accessibility making sure they are able to do their basic routine. But have we done enough to make their experience better? In western countries the situation is better off than the African and Asian countries. As a technology enthusiast, it made me think about using the contextual content for the Visually Impaired.

PROBLEMS FACED BY VISUALLY IMPAIRED

Citizens have to commute to government offices and civic centers on regular basis for sorting out their queries related to number of things. Even as a non-impaired person, it becomes difficult to locate the right person despite of sign-boards. Now, just imagine a visually impaired person trying to locate the right department and officer to visit. It would be a nightmare for sure.

Indoor Navigation Solution

With the new technology of Blue-tooth Low Energy beacons which are widely available with the iBeacons, Eddystone and some other proprietary protocols, the indoor navigation is now possible. These small beacons works as a micro-satellite indoors. The triangulation and trilateration methods are used to define the current position of the user. The mobile devices with just blue-tooth enabled are able to navigate with an accuracy of 2-5 meters.

For outdoor navigation, Google supported Mability platform is present to offer voice controlled navigation. So, that problem is sorted. But for the indoors, the solution is not present. Imagine you landing up in the city civic centre as Visually Impaired person. Your target is to meet someone in drainage department to raise a concern about the problem you are facing. You can simply speak “Drainage Department” and the navigation starts indoors stating how many steps from your current location, taking elevator, turn right and walk for 20 steps and then turn left. This will make the navigation stupidly simple.

Impact

This mechanism will have a huge impact on accessibility at the government offices for Visually Impaired users. They can reach out to the right people with lot of confidence in them and not relying on someone else to accompany them for such small things. Radical change in the way they navigate have potential of a big break-through for all stake-holders of the society. Independent, Confident and Empowered Visually Impaired citizen is a great outcome of the technology.

WAY FORWARD

With the emergence of smart cities across the globe, we need to act for the differently-abled community. Helping the Visually Impaired is just a first step to it. There can be a lot more to it. Bluetooth Low Energy beacons have a great potential to improve things we do. IoT have opened a lot bigger level of data which was not present in past. It can be definitely used for the better tomorrow.

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