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ATU566 – Intel and GoodMaps with Darryl Adams

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Your weekly dose of information that keeps you up to date on the latest developments in the field of technology designed to assist people with disabilities and special needs.

Special Guest:
Darryl Adams – Director of Accessibility – Intel

GoodMaps Website: https://www.goodmaps.com/
More on Intel RISE: https://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/corporate-responsibility/2030-goals.html

Bridging Apps: https://bridgingapps.org/

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—– Transcript Starts Here —–

Darryl Adams:
Hi, I’m Darryl Adams and I’m the director of accessibility at Intel. And this is your Assistive Technology Update.

Josh Anderson:
Hello, and welcome to your Assistive Technology Update. A weekly dose of information that keeps you up to date on the latest developments in the field of technology designed to assist individuals with disabilities and special needs. I’m your host, Josh Anderson with the INDATA Project at Easterseals Crossroads in beautiful Indianapolis, Indiana. Welcomed episode 566 of Assistive Technology Update. It’s scheduled to be released on April 1st, 2022. For this April Fool’s day, we are super excited to welcome Darryl Adams. He’s the director of accessibility for Intel, and he’s here to tell us about a recent collaboration between Intel and GoodMaps to create a high quality indoor way finding solution for people who are blind or have visual impairments so that they can effectively navigate commercial spaces and find greater independence.

Josh Anderson:
We also have BridgingApps back on the show with An App Worth Mentioning. Don’t forget if you’ve got a great idea for a show topic or guest, if you’ve got a comment, a question, or really anything that you’d like to talk to us about, you can always email us at techEastersealscrossroads.org. Give us a call on our listener line at (317) 721-7124, or drop us a line on Twitter at INDATA Project. But for now, let’s go ahead and get on with the show.

Josh Anderson:
Maybe you’re looking for some new podcast to listen to. Well, make sure to check out our sister podcast, Accessibility Minute and ATFAQ, or Assistive Technology Frequently Asked Questions. If you’re super busy and don’t have time to listen to a full podcast, be sure to check out Accessibility Minute, our one minute long podcast that gives you just a little taste of something assistive technology based so that you’re able to get your assistive technology fixed without taking up the whole day. Hosted by Tracy Castillo. This show comes out weekly. Our show is Assistive Technology Frequently Asked Questions or ATFAQ. On Assistive Technology Frequently Asked Questions, Brian Norton leads our panel of experts, including myself, Belva Smith and our own Tracy Castillo as we try to answer your assistive technology questions. This show does rely on you. So we’re always looking for new questions, comments, or even your answers on assistive technology questions. So remember, if you’re looking for more assistive technology podcast to check out, you can check out our sister shows Accessibility Minute, and ATFAQ, wherever you get your podcast now, including Spotify and Amazon Music.

Amy Berry:
This is Amy Berry with BridgingApps, and this is An App Worth Mentioning. This week’s featured app is Yoga Down Dog. BridgingApps has reviewed several yoga apps over the years and has loved the variety of options available in the App Store. The yoga app called Down Dog is a standout in the yoga world with several notable features that are particularly useful and important to persons with disabilities and persons with special medical needs. First, there is an impressive selection of choices that users are guided to make that create a customized practice that meets needs and preferences. Down Dog is nicely designed to guide the user to easily and quickly make all of decisions. Each day, the Down Dog app then generates a customized yoga routine for the user to follow.

Amy Berry:
Secondly, we love that the camera angle on the yoga teacher is excellent, close up and level to the ground. The user gets the feeling and perspective that they are on the mat next to the teacher. Another point to make about the Down Dog app is it has a generous trial period without a subscription trap. Users do not have to submit their credit card to give Down Dog a try and healthcare professionals affiliated with a medical facility are able to use the app for free during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Amy Berry:
The audio with the teacher voice over and the background music has a toggle allowing users to change the voice and backgrounds level of sound mixed. So for example, a routine with louder instructions and softer background music can be created. And there is a pause button, which is a fantastic feature. BridgingApps found the Down Dog yoga app to be an excellent example of how a well designed app can be friendly for everyone. Its ability to tailor routines in a very specific manner to what an individual wants makes yoga approachable and accessible to the newbie and the yogis alike. Down Dog is currently available for iOS and Android devices, and its free to download. For more information on this app and others like it, visit bridgingapps.org.

Josh Anderson:
Finding your way around inside a large commercial or college building can be difficult for really anyone, but especially difficult for individuals who are blind or visually impaired. Well, our guest today is Darryl Adams, director of accessibility for Intel. And he’s here to tell us about a project that Intel is working on with GoodMaps to make navigating around indoors a little more accessible for all. Darryl, welcome to the show.

Darryl Adams:
Thanks Josh. Big fan of the show. Happy to be here.

Josh Anderson:
I’m a big fan of Intel, so I’m pretty excited to have you on and be able to talk about the amazing stuff that you guys are doing and get to know you a little bit better. And with that, could you start us off by telling us a little bit about yourself and your background?

Darryl Adams:
Absolutely. Well, it turns out that this January, I just celebrated my 25th anniversary at Intel. And, yes. So it’s been a while. And the thing that’s interesting about that is it’s, it is not a surprise to me that I’ve been here this long, but it sure has gone by so quickly. I don’t know where the time’s gone, but during my 25 years I’ve spent the majority of that time in various technical program, technical project management roles, everything from standard product development to systems engineering, to a lot of research and development. So R&D seems to be my sweet spot, but along the way, I’ve also been experiencing progressive vision loss. I’ve retinitis pigmentosa. So I’m losing my eyesight from the outside in. And additionally, I’ve got single-sided deafness. I’ve experienced this since I was in college after a surgical procedure.

Darryl Adams:
And so together with these two, I guess sensory deficits, it’s brought me to the context of assistive technology midway through my career. And I realized that the, well, realized the importance of the role that assistive technology would play in the progression of my own career. And then also realized that Intel has the ability as a global technology innovator to really make a difference in the contribution of accessible computing and assistive technology to the world. So I have parlayed my passion for assistive technology and access for everyone into my current role. And this is allowing me to hopefully be directly influence the future of technology that is both inclusive and accessible to everyone.

Josh Anderson:
Nice. That’s amazing, because yeah, you were already there and on the ground floor and then to have that personal experience and be able to work that back into the work that’s amazing. And I can only imagine, and I could probably sit here and, for lack of better term, geek out on just asking the difference in technology, I think 25 years ago and where technology was as opposed to now, not just assistive technology, but all technology. And I can only imagine the stories you have of being able to see the difference in that amount of time, but that’s not why we had you here today. So, I’ll try to stay on topic as much as I can. The real reason that we had you here today was to tell us about a collaboration between Intel and GoodMaps. So what is this collaboration?

Darryl Adams:
Well, I think, maybe to start, let me get a little bit of history of this, how we got here. So, the story is really about indoor way finding and navigation for people who are either blind or visually impaired, and really trying to crack that nut. We know that we’re getting pretty good at outdoor navigation nowadays, GPS based technologies, but indoor presents a lot of problems. And it also, it presents a lot of technology problems, but it also really presents a lot of difficulty when you’re not able to see and you’re trying to get from point A to point B in a place that you’re not familiar with. So it’s a really great problem to be trying to solve, a really, really I think impactful problem space.

Darryl Adams:
So what we were doing at Intel a few years back is we had, we were conducting research with employees with disabilities to understand the barriers they experience in the workplace and how perhaps we might be able to solve or address some of those barriers with our own technology. So think about connecting the work that we do at Intel Labs with the real world problems that our employees experience. And so as we were going through this research, one of the problem statements that trended for us was this idea of navigating our campuses and how do I, I can work at my computer, but when I want to go down to the cafeteria for lunch, it’s difficult. So we started looking at some of the technologies that we have in the labs, and we were doing a lot of robotics and thinking about the need for volumetric mapping of spaces for robots to be able to move around effectively. So we were doing a fair amount of work in that space, and we felt that, that would translate pretty well to the space of nav, or way finding for people.

Darryl Adams:
So as we started looking into that, we were looking at who is doing this work in the industry and we came across GoodMaps. So GoodMaps does have a commercially available app in both Android and iOS today. And it does both outdoor way finding and indoor way finding. And so we felt that if we were able to partner with GoodMaps, we could perhaps bring another level of precision, accuracy and perhaps scale to the solution that they have. So that’s really the crux of the relationship is how do we help the GoodMaps indoor way finding solution scale, and essentially improve over time.

Josh Anderson:
Sure. And I know that this is an issue in going to conferences and going to other things and even navigating the building Easterseals Crossroads that we’re in. I know that’s always been a big challenge is once, it can get you to the door within a few feet, but once you’re inside, you’re really on your own. And there’s just, there’s no model. There’s no way that all buildings are built to where you have any guide. So, yeah, I know that’s definitely been a problem for many individuals that I’ve worked with, whether it be at work, or as you said, school, or really anywhere once you have to get inside. So, you guys were able to partner with GoodMaps. So tell me, I’ve seen how a few solutions like this in the past, and they usually require some different things. So how exactly does the indoor way finding work?

Darryl Adams:
Well, let’s start with the user experience. So, from a user perspective, you’re going to have your phone with the app. You open the app on your phone and the app’s going to verify that you are in the building, and then you have the opportunities to select from a number of points of interest or destinations. Once you select that the app will point you in the right direction and give you turn by turn directions, how many feet to the next turn, these types of things. Very similar to the model that you had experienced if you’re following GPS instructions on outside or in a car, for example. So that’s the experience, and the nice thing about the app as well is that it’s very, it was built obviously with accessibility in mind for the blind community. So it’s very accessible whether you’re using it visually, or whether you’re just using it audibly, which is key benefit.

Darryl Adams:
So, that’s the user experience. Then the technology that’s being used in the device is really about camera based positioning. And so it’s using the camera on the phone to recognize where you are in the space. And it’s able to do that based on the background technology, that is the volumetric mapping. It’s a LiDAR based scanned point clouds basically. So it’s a digital representation of the 3D space that is converted into 2D maps and then brought down to the phone. So it’s fascinating. And the thing that’s wonderful about this is that we can get super precision on this as we move forward we’re going to be able to really bring this to a point where the competence that you are, where you think you are, will be very high. And that’s really critical to these types of applications.

Josh Anderson:
Yeah, because I’m sure using the camera, like you said, you can get much closer. I think if you’re using, oh, satellite GPS, other things like that, if it said turn left and the door’s right here, well, the door’s going to be on your left, but maybe not right where you are, it’s going to be within a few feet one way or the other, I feel like with that camera, you can probably get that down to turn left and the door’s right there and the door would be right there.

Darryl Adams:
Yes.

Josh Anderson:
Very cool. I’d love to see how the back end of that works, but that’s fine. We’ll leave that for another time. Now with this kind of project and with everything, with the maps, do those have to be loaded beforehand? So would a business already have to have that information in, or since you’re using the camera and the LiDAR, could I just walk into any place and this work?

Darryl Adams:
Yeah. So it is the former. So, the space needs to be scanned and uploaded. And today the model is that it’s uploaded to a cloud service. And so it’s accessible anywhere. The really neat thing about this that I think is actually a critical component to the, I think successfully navigating spaces in confidence is the idea that because the space is represented digitally, the app can actually access the space before you’re there. So when you’re sitting at home, let’s say you’re going to, you have a trip to make, and it requires you going to a transit center that you’ve never been to. So, you can load that into your phone while you’re at home and you can understand the lay of the land there. So once you get there, not only are you going to have this assistant, but you’re going to already have known exactly where you’re going, what’s on your right, what’s on your left, approximately how far you have to go.

Darryl Adams:
So all these things will be in your mental model before you even get there, which is a major plus, but it is true that you, this wouldn’t work just anywhere. It has to be in facilities that have been mapped.

Josh Anderson:
Thanks. Well, and I’m sure as time goes, there’ll be more and more and more of those. Now I know this tech has been implemented in a few places, and one of those is Portland State University. Can you tell us maybe some of the feedback that you’ve been able to receive from some of the users trying it out there?

Darryl Adams:
Yes. So yeah, we definitely, we mapped the student union building at Portland State and they do a fantastic job in general with supporting the blind and low vision community. And so they were wonderful partners to work with. And we were able to work with a few students over time that really tried to, we wanted to get a diverse perspective of different levels of vision loss and different experiences, people that were new to campus versus people that are on campus all the time. And by and large, the feedback was very positive. And one example is that one of the students thought that it was similar to walking with a friend that was telling them where to go. It’s like this assistant that’s with you. And that was really, I think, a neat way to look at it.

Darryl Adams:
And interestingly, I also, because of, I have significant problems in this area myself. So when I’m in public spaces that I am not familiar with it’s challenging for me personally to navigate, I would say. I’m generally okay with orientation and mobility skills to get around, but to know where I’m really going has always been a challenge and it’s pretty anxiety producing for me. And so me using the app in the wild for the first time was at Portland State. And I felt really that sense of independence and a sense of confidence that I was indeed where I thought I should be. So basically I was going to a classroom and I walked there and I thought I was in the right place, but then the app tells me exactly where I am. And so there’s no doubt that I’m in the right place.

Darryl Adams:
And so I think that bit of confidence building is a key piece. So you have this physical, the physical solution where you’re getting from A to B, but mentally what that’s doing, the confidence and the independence that, that’s giving is critical. And it is the difference between that, well, when you’re confident you can do anything. And that feeling is worth making this happen, the motivation behind this project is getting people out, getting people active. And I think we’re going down the right path.

Josh Anderson:
Well, I think you said two words there that I think are really important that I don’t think that people maybe that don’t have a visual impairment, or don’t know someone don’t think about, you said, anxiety and confidence. Most folks that I’ve worked with and the biggest challenge with, or maybe not the biggest challenge, I suppose, visually being able to see the place may be the bigger challenge, but the anxiety of, I’m going to end up in the wrong place. I’m not going to end up in the right place. I don’t know where I’m going. I don’t know what this place is like, but then after they’ve been someplace a few times the confidence builds and it’s so much easier.

Josh Anderson:
Being able to have that confidence before you even go can help individuals who are not just blind or low vision, but I think of folks with, oh, anxiety disorders, cognitive impairments, not just the visually impaired community, but really anyone with that anxiety and fear of, I think of college freshmen, that first day on campus, you just don’t want to look stupid, or you don’t want to end up in the wrong class, or something like that. And it could help them as well.

Darryl Adams:
Yep, absolutely.

Josh Anderson:
So even though it’s made for the blind and low vision community, I could see how that could really be implemented and help out folks with, oh, just a lot of different kinds of needs. Now, Darryl, this actually came together as part of the Intel RISE Technology Initiative. Can you tell me about this initiative?

Darryl Adams:
Sure. Yeah. So, RISE stands for responsible, inclusive, sustainable activities that we do enabled through our technology. So this is a larger program that we’ve set out specific goals to achieve, for achievement in across these areas by 2030. And this is our North Star in terms of where we are as a company trying to do better and improve technology that helps people, helps the client. The technology initiative it’s a purpose driven platform that basically we are supporting projects that have this dedicated lens of, either on social equity, on human rights, on climate action, and then accessibility falls into this. And so where I sit is I’m looking for projects that really help progress the accessibility and inclusiveness of technology for everyone in particular across this disability spectrum. So the program allows us to partner with other companies to drive proof of concepts, very similar to what we’ve been doing with GoodMaps and similar types of pilot projects that allow us to demonstrate this technology and hopefully give the push that it needs to scale.

Josh Anderson:
Very cool. And Darryl, we might have to have you back on the show sometime to tell us about some of those other projects, because I’m sure we could fill even more. It shows with that. So Darryl, well, got a little bit of time left, what are the next steps on this project? Where are you now and where do you hope it will go in the future?

Darryl Adams:
Well, we’re going to continue to integrate. So the improvements around the scalability of the solution, as well as the precision of the mapping. I think this is all about scale as you alluded to before, this is useful when it’s available, but we need to have this in more facilities and use to scale in a global fashion. And we really hope that our Intel contribution can help in that way, in that getting the word out, getting more people that are interested in it, ensuring that their spaces, their venues are accessible, are physically accessible. So, we’re really going to continue to push on that element and just make those technology improvements over time.

Darryl Adams:
Another thing that’s of interest also coming out of Intel Labs is this, is applying spatial audio into this, into the user experience. So the idea would be that as you’re traveling, if your point of interest is on your left hand side, then the audio that’s talking that’s describing where you’re going, is going to come from that exact location. And it’s not just a basic, it’s not an approximate, this is going to be exact, the voice will be coming from where you need to go. So you could essentially track yourself to the voice as well. So I think that will bring a whole nother dimension of usefulness to the experience.

Josh Anderson:
No, that definitely will. That would be absolutely amazing. Yeah. If I could just hear it come on the side and as I turn toward it become more in front of me. That’s much more helpful than just something saying turn right, turn left, or that kind of thing. It can really work much more into the daily stuff. Darryl, if let’s say I wanted my business to be more accessible, to be mapped, how would I go about that?

Darryl Adams:
You would contact GoodMaps on their website and they would be able to initiate the planning process for you to do that.

Josh Anderson:
Excellent. And what if I want to find out more about this project, about the RISE Technology Initiative, or more about accessibility and Intel, what’s the best way for me to do that?

Darryl Adams:
Yeah, there are two different things. So I think if you’re looking at for more information about the GoodMaps Intel project, certainly go to the GoodMaps website and you’ll see there’s the white paper that we developed that has more detail. And the video that you had alluded to with the, at Portland State University gives a little bit more context. And for Intel RISE, if you search Intel RISE, you will find our website that describes all the different focus areas around RISE and what our specific commitments for 2030 are.

Josh Anderson:
Excellent. We’ll put all that information down in the show notes. Well, Darryl Adams, thank you so much for coming on today for telling us about things that I wasn’t even aware that Intel was working to do and using their power and technology to really make some new assistive technologies and new accommodations that could really help a whole lot of people. But again, thank you so much for taking time out of your day to come on here and tell us all about them.

Darryl Adams:
It was my pleasure. Thank you, Josh.

Josh Anderson:
Do you have a question about assistive technology? Do you have a suggestion for someone we should interview on an Assistive Technology Update? If so, call our listener line at (317) 721-7124. Send us an email at tech@Eastersealscrossroads.org, or shoot us a note on Twitter at INDATA Project. Our captions and transcripts for the show are sponsored by the Indiana Telephone Relay Access Corporation or InTRAC. You can find out more about InTRAC at relayindiana.com. A special thanks to Nicole Preto for scheduling our amazing guests and making a mess of my schedule. Today’s show was produced, edited, hosted, and [inaudible 00:26:44] over by yours truly. The opinions expressed by our guest are their own and may or may not reflect those of the INDATA Project, Easterseals Crossroads, our supporting partners, or this host. This was your Assistive Technology Update, and I’m Josh Anderson with the INDATA Project at Easterseals Crossroads in beautiful Indianapolis, Indiana. We look forward to seeing you next time. Bye-bye.

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