An indoors navigation system for the visually impaired

October 15th saw a new addition to the Android and iOS app stores: a new app aimed at facilitating navigation with audio guidance for those that are visually impaired. NavCog uses Bluetooth beacons strategically placed indoors to collect the data needed and generate a topology map that will guide the app user around universities, laboratories or even at home. In simple words, this works similarly to a GPS, but for indoors.

In the words of the Washington Post, the free app “turns smartphone images of the surrounding environment into a 3-D space model that can be used to issue turn-by-turn navigation guidance”.

IBM Research teamed up with Carnegie Mellon University to develop NavCog and made its platform open source so developers from around the world can contribute to the project.

Two other interesting accessibility projects are being developed by the Carnegie Mellon University team:

  • CVS (Collective Visual Sensing): to help choose the best path to the destination for those that are visually impaired
  • VizWiz: allows those that are visually impaired to send pictures via their phones to people online that are sighted and ready to provide help.

You can click here to access the recently released official NavCog video.

Additional Sources: NavCog, PR Newswire, TH Online, The Washington Post