BlindSquare apps helps Blind People Navigate Streets


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BlindSquare is a new app that’s using of Foursquare’s 2 billion check-ins worldwide to help people who are blind find locations on foot or while using public transportation. Foursquare is a social networking site that users can “check in” when they arrive at a destination. Destinations include restaurants, parks, colleges residents and other similar locations.

BlindSquare integrates Foursquare data to create a location-based virtual map using with Apple’s native VoiceOver technology. When the app is enabled, it reads addresses, street names and surrounding locations aloud and directions are available on demand. The 20 million+ Foursquare users have already created an incredibly detailed crowdsourced directory.  The app is available in the Apple iTunes store for $14.99. The somewhat expensive cost covers the right to use Acapela’s speech synthesis technology that turns text into speech on different devices.

The technology create to assist people who are blind in unfamiliar areas. BlindSquare draws a map of information about surrounding streets, crossings and services nearby. Categories within the app include arts and entertainment, colleges, food, great outdoors, nightlife spots, residences, shops and travel. The app lists the most popular spots in the surrounding area. The app “knows” what is most popular based on the number of check-ins of Foursquare users.

BlindSquare was conceptualized and created in six months. Pirttimaa, the maker,  calls it a “mashup of GPS technology, speech synthesis, crowdsourced data through Foursquare and augmented reality with audio.”  The app has been tested in Finland, the U.S. and Australia. Here’s the user guide provided by Pirttimaa.

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