Tech Innovation Required to Fill Gap in Indoor Navigation for Blind

Being able to travel independently is vital to the wellbeing of the sight loss community. But navigating alone around indoor places such as malls, train stations and airports, is difficult unless the individual is very familiar with their surroundings, according to Strategy Analitics. While meet and assist services exist in train stations and airports, they typically must be booked well in advance and do not provide satisfactory user experiences.

There is huge opportunity for technological innovation to combat the issues of navigating indoor spaces for the blind or visually impaired. Research explores the needs of people who are blind or visually impaired and their relationship with technology. A new series of reports identifies key design implications with respect to user needs, technology use and pain-points for the sight loss community while travelling, using smartphones, or when using smart home technologies and appliances.

“There is an overwhelming opportunity for technological innovation to help people with sight loss navigate indoor public spaces when traveling. This would fill a huge need and eliminate a huge source of anxiety that was identified by the participants in our research when trying to navigate indoor places such as airports, bus and train stations, and shopping malls,” said Lisa Cooper, report author and Director at UX Innovation Practice.

“A trusted app – similar to a turn-by-turn navigation app commonly found for outdoor spaces – would be a game changer. Not only could a blind or visually impaired person use this kind of app to plan ahead of their journey, they would also be able to use it while they are physically navigating the indoor public space,” added Cooper.

“The use of other modalities such as braille and haptic feedback, rather than relying solely on audio feedback to visualize maps and scheduling, is key to helping this community better learn how to plan trips and understand their surroundings. If indoor navigation could be made available and linked to the identification of trains, buses and gate information, people with sight loss would be able to independently know where they are going, catch the right train or plane, or even navigate on foot to a specific store in a mall,” said Kevin Nolan, VP at UX Innovation Practice.

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