Investing in Technology
While travelling this summer in North Carolina with his family, one of the participants in our summer youth program came across a piece of technology that helps people with vision impairments navigate inside buildings using a cell phone app. Thanks to his advocacy, that technology will soon be coming to INSIGHT.
The student, a junior at Rocky Hill School, recently made a presentation to our Board of Directors that provided an overview of the app, called BlindSquare. Once downloaded on your phone or tablet the app communicates with beacons that are installed throughout a building. The beacons work together to provide the app user with information about where they are in a building and how to get where they need to go. For instance in an airport outfitted with the beacons, a user could get to the ticket counter, their gate, and baggage claim all without having to ask for a sighted guide.
While there are several apps, like Google Maps, that provide navigation outdoors, BlindSquare is one of the few apps that is able to provide specific directions outside as well as once someone enters a building outfitted with the beacons.
The INSIGHT Board of Directors was impressed with the presentation and excited about the possibility of installing the beacons at INSIGHT so that our building can be used as a training spot where people can come and learn how to use the app. We also hope that the owners and managers of much larger buildings will come and see how the technology works and evaluate whether it would make sense for them to install the beacons in their spaces.
A small group of INSIGHT staff and volunteers will be working over the next couple of months to plan out the location of the beacons and the actual installation. We hope to have the system up and running in time for use during our summer youth program this July.