App helps guide the visually impaired

You may be familiar with the floor tapes used in large buildings to guide people to different areas or departments – click to enlargeI have seen these in many hospitals. A team in Italy’s University of Palermo have extended the idea to develop an inexpensive way to guide visually impaired people.

In a paper published last month Pierluigi Gallo and colleagues have described their work in developing Arianna, a system which can be used to guide people along complex paths with multiple junctions. An App on a smartphone detects the floor guide line and feedbacks to the user by vibration the direction to follow. For complex routes with multiple possible destinations the user tells the App the desired destination and at each junction the App selects the correct turn.click to enlarge

The paper reports a demonstration which has been given in Boston but no plans for commercialisation are available. MIT Technology Review notes that this has the potential to be significantly cheaper than bespoke devices.

Although this is not a medical app, you may also like to read through Charles Lowe’s two-part article on medical app usage in UK and Donna’s article on certifying health apps if you haven’t already done so.

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