Digital Helpers for the Blind

Last year, the WDR (German TV broadcaster) together our HaptiMap project partner GeoMobile tested the the PocketNavigator with Mr. Schmidt who is visually impaired.

Actually, the PocketNavigator was not designed for blind users, since it only gives very coarse directions (straight, left, right, behind) via vibration patterns. However, to my surprise, Mr. Schmidt seemed to be able to get along with it quite well. He navigated by the white cane as usual but took the directions as orientation cues.

Screenshot of the PocketNavigators main map view

The test also showed that the PocketNavigator is not yet ready to be used by visually impaired users. During the test Mr. Schmidt accidentally hit the touch screen and changed the travel destination, which caused him ending up in front of a house.

Altogether, he was quite fond of the general principle. He concludes that the system would not be an “extra workload” when being on the move.

The video is available here: Digitale Helfer für Blinde, 15.10.2010 (German only)

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