How Android smartphones can help blind people’s mobility

Design / UI/UX
06/17/2016 - 14:45 to 15:30
Stage 1

Session abstract: 

The mobility of the blind and visually impaired is associated with many barriers and risks. A lot of information that we use without thinking about it is not available to them. This particularly applies to crossing intersections: How does the intersection look like? Is there a bicycle path next to me? Where is the waiting area? Is there an acoustic indicator for the walking signal? And if there isn't, can I walk now? This is made even more difficult by unfavorable environmental conditions such as traffic noise.

Smartphones have the potential to assist blind and visually impaired people’s mobility. Not only are they literally mobile devices that can be carried around everywhere, they can also sense and connect to the environment and augment the user’s perception. Additionally, also the infrastructure is increasingly being equipped with sensors and communication devices. So why not leverage these factors by creating an app? Within the BMWi (German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology) funded research project InMoBS (intra-urban-mobility support for the blind and visually impaired), an Android-based prototype of a route planning and navigation system specifically designed for blind and visually impaired users has been developed and evaluated in an exploratory manner.
In this talk, you’ll get answers to the following questions:

  • How do blind people use smartphones and how can you make your app more accessible?
  • What are specific challenges when developing a pedestrian navigation app (compared e.g. to vehicle navigation)?
  • How we used Car2X communication infrastructure to show the walking signal directly on the smartphone.
  • How we incorporated feedback from blind and visually impaired people into the development process and how the app performed in a field evaluation.

After this talk you will have a good idea about some of the potential smartphones and smart cities have to make mobility easier and safer for everyone in the not-too-distant future.

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