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OsloMet in development of new assistive technology system

Researchers at OsloMet have tried out new technology that enables visually impaired persons to better navigate indoors unaided.

Olav Johan Øye Published: Updated:
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Assistant  Professor G. Anthony Giannoumis and student Daria Krivonos have been taking the lead in the development of an assistive technology for visual impaired persons.

‘First, we had an experimental study in a lab called PAMELA at University College London, built to resemble an underground station or a train station,’ Anthony explains.

About 50 persons with visual impairments participated. They did several kinds of activities where the researchers tried to measure and understand the potential of the technology and the user experience.

The participants used their phones paired with headphones to communicate with Bluetooth transmitters mounted all over the building, broadcasting messages that the headphones could receive.

The messages helped them navigate as they walked through the station, and to find a route without getting themselves into dangerous situations.

The researchers involved in the project also brought in 17 persons with visual impairments to OsloMet – Oslo Metropolitan University.

In cooperation with the company Next Signal, they tested the optimal intervals of feedback the system would give to its users.

Instead of the initial ten seconds warning from the point where they were supposed to make a turn, the users preferred a six seconds warning, which is a substantial difference.

The results supported what had been discovered in the previous tests and was considered a success.

‘We are at a very early stage with the technology, and it is still developing. There is no doubt that things will continue to improve, and these tests are important to understand a bit more about people’s experiences when they interact with these technologies.’

‘The point is to experiment and understand the experience the users have in using new technology’ - Anthony adds.

The research has been conducted in collaboration with The Royal Society for Blind Children and the social innovation enterprise Wayfindr in the UK, as well as a business in Barcelona.

•    Read more about Wayfindr
•    Read more about PAMELA
•    Read about The Royal Society of Blind Children