January 31, 2013
The IT system designed to assist blind people in moving around is made up of the following components:
- a dedicated hardware platform in the form of a smartphone-type device and a set of sensors,
- a digital map of routes containing geographic data
A smartphone fitted with the Android operating system contains a set of built-in sensors and communicates with external sensors on a wireless basis. Wiring could cause problems for a blind user.
The role of the output interface is played by a speech synthesizer that reads messages in the form of questions, warnings and voice messages. The device’s touchscreen is also adapted to the needs of blind users.
Geographic data describe a network of routes for pedestrians. These routes are rated in terms of how safe they are for a blind person to get around and there are also other important features such as the width of the route, type of surface, and potential obstacles.
The data helps determine an optimal route for the user to the destination of their choice. In addition, it is important that the geographic data includes information about features and facilities important to blind people, such as pharmacies, stores, post offices, churches and banks.
The main role of the software is to:
- operate the sensors,
- operate the interface in the form of a touchscreen keyboard
- generate voice messages using a speech synthesizer
- find an optimal route to a destination chosen by a blind person (using algorithms for searching the shortest route)
- monitor the blind user’s movement, provide tips to prevent the user from veering off the route or changing direction, as well as warnings about any dangers (for example, a warning that the blind person is walking on the roadway).