GPS navigation has made it easier for people who are blind or visually impaired to walk around and ride buses without visual cues such as street signs or landmarks. But GPS technology doesn’t work as well in indoor spaces such as malls, airports, and conference centers.
The Sendaro Group is working to address this gap with a scalable Accessible Environmental Information Application providing orientation information to help people who are blind or visually impaired navigate indoor public spaces. The app relies on small, wireless transmitters called beacons, which use low-energy Bluetooth technology to send signals to nearby smart devices. Beacon technology, first introduced in 2013, allows for much better in-door location positioning than GPS.
The ultimate goal of the “wayfinding” app project is to create a seamless navigation experience for indoor and outdoor travel. The project received funding from ACL’s National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR). NIDILRR’s Small Business Innovation Research program supports the development of new ideas and projects that help people with disabilities by inviting the participation of small business with strong research capabilities in science, engineering, or educational technology.