Blind Maps: a new way to get around town

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Monday, 4 March 2013 16:14pm

A prototype for a device has been designed in Denmark which converts walking directions into a Braille-like pattern.  By connecting to an iPhone and using Google Maps and GPS, Blind Maps could enable white cane and guide dog users to walk around with more confidence.

The concept for the device, which is about the size of a business card, has 65 pins which rise up to signify instructions such as ‘go straight’, ‘turn right’ and ‘stop: intersection’. Currently, blind and vision impaired iPhone users can listen to Google Maps directions via headphones. This can be dangerous for people trying to negotiate traffic and the designers hope that Blind Maps will provide a safer alternative.

The designers have incorporated functions to help ensure each recommended route is accurate. The device monitors how often the user stops or changes direction. Users can also log corrections or new obstacles so that the next person doesn’t go down the same wrong path. Once the user has successfully arrived at their destination they press the ‘OK’ button to tell Blind Maps the route worked.

The concept for Blind Maps was developed during a 36-hour challenge by students at Copenhagen’s Institute of Interaction Design. The product is in its very early stages, with the designers unsure of how to make the raiseable pins a reality.

The designers have made a demonstration video of Blind Maps which, unfortunately, lacks captions and audio description.

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