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New Smartphone App Helps Blind Find Their Way Inside Buildings

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The ARIANNA navigation system

A new smartphone app can help the visually impaired find their way inside buildings that block reception of the global positioning system.

Credit: arXiv:1312.3724

The visually impaired could navigate inside buildings where the global positioning system does not work using a smartphone app developed by researchers at the University of Palermo.

Rather than warn of objects in a path, the app, dubbed pAth Recognition for Indoor Assisted NavigatioN with Augmented perception (ARIANNA), makes use of haptic feedback as users follow a predetermined path that is free of obstacles.

The app is designed to work with special tape that is placed on the floor. The user points their smartphone at the floor similar to holding a cane, and swipes it back and forth until it buzzes in their hand and lets them know when to turn or walk straight.

Buildings would need to use the tape for the navigation system to function, and there could be some opposition to putting tape on floors to serve as a guide for the blind. However, the researchers are now looking into using infrared line recognition, which can be seen by cameras but not people.

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Abstracts Copyright © 2014 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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