Final presentation of results at Berlin’s city hall
The m4guide research project was geared towards safe door-to-door travel assistance for people with blindness or visual impairment. Funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Technology (BMWi), scientific and industrial project partners developed a navigation solution for smartphones. The final presentation of results was held at the Berlin’s city hall (Rotes Rathaus) on 28 April 2016.
In the course of the event, the project partners described the complexity of the requirements for a navigation system for people with blindness or visual impairment. The main priority here is the safety of the route, whereas for sighted people, it is the shortness of the journey.
Therefore, the data pool for navigation is particularly important. It has to be extremely extensive, and obstacles such as steps or bollards and temporary changes to the route due to construction, for instance, must be integrated in the outdoor route guidance. IVU’s developers initially focused on the available data sources before developing a calculation of safe routes and the perfectly tailored output of the route information. People with visual impairment or blindness now obtain a comprehensive picture of their surroundings and can get around independently within them.
“We have gained important findings about route guidance systems,” explained IVU project manager Henry Michels. “This will enable us to integrate additional functions into our apps in the future to the benefit of all users.” For instance, VBB, the Berlin-Brandenburg public transport authority, will record 3,000 stop areas and stations in detail in the next two years. At this, it is supported by the timetable management system IVU.pool. A newly developed graphical architecture editor makes it possible to quickly amend the station models with relevant information from construction drawings. This reduces maintenance efforts considerably compared to otherwise necessary on-site-research with subsequent data collection. The data should then be available in the existing VBB route information apps for Android and iOS by the end of 2017 in order to improve barrier-free navigation for all passengers.
m4guide, the research project funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Technology, was set up to develop a door-to-door travel information system for people with blindness or visual impairment and test it in practical conditions. The pilot areas were the Berlin district of Mitte and the city and rural district of Soest. Integration of different data sources allows the system to navigate along streets as well as in public buildings, such as stations, and to propose routes combining various forms of transport that are suitable for people with blindness or visual impairment. To this end, the solution uses geodata as well as real-time information on public and private transport.