PointFinder: a new way to get around town

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Monday, 9 September 2013 11:12am

An Australian-made Android app has gone live today which is designed to help blind and vision impaired users navigate between landmarks.

PointFinder, developed by the Perth-based picoSpace, allows users to save a ‘point of interest’ such as the letterbox, bus stop or office. The app’s inbuilt compass or Google Maps can then be used to provide directions.

Each element of PointFinder has been tailored to the needs of users who are blind or vision impaired.  An ‘audio compass’ indicates if a user is getting closer or further away from a point of interest. According to the PointFinder app description on Google Play, the audio compass provides a "continuous sound effect whose pitch gets lower as the user turns to face the point of interest."

The interface has been designed with high colour contrast and large buttons to make it as easy to see as possible.

The idea for the app was born from a meeting the developer Voon-Li Chung had with Media Access Australia’s Dr Scott Hollier.

“My original motivation was based on the realisation that apps specifically for the visually impaired might be a need that was yet to be met – I have an idea or two for more complex apps, but in a meeting with Scott this idea came out.

"It had the advantage of being an app that would be considered useful, while being straight-forward enough to facilitate my understanding of what is required when writing apps for the visually impaired,” said Chung.

With testing and feedback provided by Dr Hollier, the app works well with Android’s inbuilt screen reader TalkBack.

PointFinder is available for devices running Android 4.0 and above.  It can be purchased from Google Play for $1.

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