Mitigating indoor wayfinding challenges

Finding their way in complex indoor environments remains a challenge for visually impared persons. This R&D tackles these barriers in a 'smart' way. Source: Instagram

Arikovani UK’s WeWalk, Imperial College London, Astra Terra and the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) are leading the mitigation of way finding challenges within complex urban infrastructure, such as shopping malls and transit stations, that continue to affect up to 285 million visually impaired people worldwide. Other solutions to this inherent accessibility barrier either required the visually impaired person to use specialist equipment or necessitated fundamental alterations to the environment itself. Moreover, recent beacon-based navigation systems that direct the visually impaired person using indoor positioning do not demonstrate sufficient system integrity and availability for this safety critical application.

These organisations will combine their extensive expertise to develop an indoor navigation system that is both reliable and fully accessible for visually impaired people, or anyone that may struggle to navigate the built environment. This system will be revolutionary in that, while existing beacon hardware and the Wayfindr standard will be used, the complete system will be designed to incorporate the novel feature of integrity monitoring (for safety criticality) and a usability framework.

The Centre for Transport Studies at Imperial College London led by Professor Washington Ochieng Freng, will contribute their class-leading research to test and deploy the system in direct collaboration with the visually impaired community via the RNIB. Moreover, the system will be compatible with Arikovani UK’s WeWALK, the world's first smart cane for the visually impaired, allowing the user to receive accurate turn-by-turn navigation straight from their cane. Ultimately, by providing this cost-effective, all-in-one solution that can be easily installed in any location, significant advancements in accessibility for visually impaired people can be achieved across the globe.

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