Friday, June 1, 2012

The BlindSquare App Uses Foursquare To Help the Blind Navigate Streets

From: Fred F.
Sent: June 1, 2012
To: undisclosed recipients
Subject: Fw: The BlindSquare App Uses Foursquare To Help the Blind Navigate Streets
The BlindSquare App Uses Foursquare To Help the Blind Navigate StreetsMy brother is blind and when I saw this peace I jumped for joy. For years he has been house bound for fear of getting lost. Kudos go out to BlindSquare and Foursquare. Thanks for posting, Fred.
The 20 million+ people worldwide on Foursquare have created an incredibly detailed crowdsourced directory. BlindSquare is a new app that’s making use of Foursquare’s 2 billion check-ins worldwide to help blind pedestrians find locations on foot or while using public transportation.
BlindSquare integrates Foursquare data with Apple’s native VoiceOver technology to create a location-based virtual map through sound. When the app is enabled, it reads addresses, street names and surrounding locations aloud. Directions are available on demand.

“Basically it speaks what’s around you and if you want to go somewhere it will give guidance,” Finland-based app creator Ilkka Pirttimaa tells Mashable. ”When they travel on a bus, they don’t normally know where to get of. Now, they can hear surroundings and even street crossings when [the] bus is making a turn.”

The app is available in the Apple iTunes store for $14.99. The high cost covers the right to use Acapela’s speech synthesis technology that turns text into speech on different devices, according to developers.

BlindSquare was conceptualized and created in six months. Pirttimaa calls it a mashup of GPS technology, speech synthesis, crowdsourced data through Foursquare and augmented reality with audio.

“You launch the app whenever you need assistance,” he says. “If blind person is in the area, which she doesn’t know, BlindSquare will help to ‘draw a map’ with information about streets and crossings and services around you.”

The technology was built to help blind individuals in unfamiliar areas. BlindSquare draws a map of information about surrounding streets, crossings and services nearby. Categories within the app include arts and entertainment, colleges, food, great outdoors, nightlife spots, residences, shops and travel.

Foursquare map points show up ranked by number of check-ins.

“BlindSquare reports the most popular restaurants, cafes, etc.,” he says. ”So, it’s not just listing places around. BlindSquare helps you to make sense what’s around you.”

Pirttimaa tested the app with blind individuals in Finland, the U.S. and Australia. One of the volunteers who tested the app used an iControlPad bluetooth gaming control to navigate within the app. The BlindSquare user attached the control to a guide dog’s harness.
The BlindSquare App Uses Foursquare To Help the Blind Navigate Streets

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