Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Smartphones Could Soon Help The Visually Impaired Safely Cross The Street

So what can't smartphones do these days? Besides all the fun and informative apps they already offer, researchers are now working to put a suite of assistive technologies at the fingertips of visually impaired pedestrians via smartphones.

The prototype Mobile Accessible Pedestrian Signals (MAPS) system uses technologies built into the latest smartphones—including Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers, digital compasses, and wireless networking— to help people with limited or no eyesight cross intersections safely.

While standing at an intersection, the user can point a smartphone in the direction he or she wants to cross and call up information about the intersection and the signal phase by tapping the unit’s touchscreen once. A double tap sends a request for a crossing signal to the traffic signal controller. Feedback is then given to the user as to whether it is safe to cross.

Cool huh? And pretty amazing. Here's the entire article from the University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Studies.


Charles Hansen said...

Sounds interesting, not sure how a blind person could use a smartphone, but maybe a nearly blind person.

SRTC Staff said...

That hadn't occured to me @Charles. Guess I didn't fully think that through when posting that, so I went back and did a little research and found that there's a phone developed specifically for the visually impaired. The 'Voim' (which means 'seeing' in Korean) features route navigation, word recognition and object identification, with a braille system on the screen.

Just in case you want more info:

About SRTC

SRTC is the federally designated Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for Spokane County. Urbanized areas with populations exceeding 50,000 people are required to have an MPO. SRTC was formed to address the county's transportation planning needs. It provides coordination in planning between the public, cities, small towns, the county, the state, transit providers, and tribes.

SRTC offers services including transportation monitoring, transportation modeling, census information analysis, travel demand forecasting, historical traffic count analysis, geographic information systems, and trip generation rates.