Indoor Wayfinding
For the Blind & Visually Impaired

Researched and Developed at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in the 5G Mobile Evolution Lab

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  • Image of PERCEPT App.  App is currently on main app page which user is informed the venue they are located in as well as gives the options to start a journey and change travel preferences.
  • Image of PERCEPT App.  App is currently on select destination page.  The screen presents a list of destinations within the venue that can navigated to.
  • Image of PERCEPT App.  App is currently on the PERCEPT instruction page.  The detailed instructions are given to the user is easy to digest chunks.  User can select next or prior instructions buttons to recieve the next or prior instruction to their selected destination.  At any time the user can shake the phone to recieve rerouting instruction from where they are currently located in the venue.
The World Health Organization reported that 285 million people are estimated to be visually impaired worldwide: 39 million are blind and 246 million have low vision (World Health Organization, 2016). According to the report for the National Health Interview Survey, 22.5 million adult Americans 18 and older reported experiencing vision loss (American Federation for the Blind, 2016).

Background

Independent navigation through unfamiliar indoor spaces is beset with barriers for Blind and Visually Impaired (BVI) users. A task that is trivial and spontaneous for the visioned population has to be planned and coordinated with other individuals for BVI users. Although many improvements and aides are available to assist the visually impaired to lead an independent life, there has yet remain to be a challenge to develop a system that combines independence with scalability and affordability of indoor navigation. 

PERCEPT system developed at the University of Massachusetts 5G Mobile Evolution Lab was developed with the cooperation of the Massachusetts Orientation and Mobility division from Massachusetts Commission for the Blind. PERCEPT generates landmark based navigation instructions automatically for a specific indoor environment. To the best of our knowledge, PERCEPT is the only indoor navigation system for BVI users that can generate navigation instructions automatically.  Bluetooth Low Energy tags are deployed at strategic locations in the indoor environment.  Using a Smartphone based PERCEPT app (in both the iPhone and Android) the user will receive audial navigation instructions to the chosen destination within the building. The user seamlessly interacts with the environment and the app vision free user interface. 

What is PERCEPT?

PERCEPT provides an affordable and comprehensive navigation solution for the blind and visually impaired in unfamiliar indoor environments through the use of a Smartphone App. PERCEPT is currently undergoing a usability study with blind and visually impaire participants at the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) North Station Subway and Commuter Line stations.

The study is ongoing, however results so far are:

  • All participants have been able to use PERCEPT to independently navigate North Station Subway.

  • All participants reported PERCEPT was user friendly and easy to learn.

  • All participants would use PERCEPT if available in the MBTA

PERCEPT is researched and developed at the 5G Mobile Evolution Lab under the direction of Dr. Aura Ganz at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. This project has received financial support from the National Institutes of Health/National Eye Institute, University of Massachusetts Amherst, and Massachusetts Department of Transportation. 5GLabs has collaborated with Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialists from Massachusetts Commission for the Blind, Assistive Technology Specialists, and the MBTA System-Wide Accessibility Department.

PERCEPT will enhance the quality of life of blind and visually impaired users by enabling them to independently navigate through indoor environments. Such independent navigation will enhance their opportunities such as working, attending medical appointments, and leisure activities.

Features

Real-Time Navigation

Receive detailed navigation instructions and orientation information from anywhere within the venue

Accessibility First

Designed from ground up to be accessible for the blind and visually impaired

User Tested

Extensive usability studies with blind and visually impaired community has shaped every aspect of the system

  • Image of PERCEPT App.  App is currently on main app page which user is informed the venue they are located in as well as gives the options to start a journey and change travel preferences.
  • Image of PERCEPT App.  App is currently on select destination page.  The screen presents a list of destinations within the venue that can navigated to.
  • Image of PERCEPT App.  App is currently on the PERCEPT instruction page.  The detailed instructions are given to the user is easy to digest chunks.  User can select next or prior instructions buttons to recieve the next or prior instruction to their selected destination.  At any time the user can shake the phone to recieve rerouting instruction from where they are currently located in the venue.

Never Lost

Some venues are complex, but no matter where you are, PERCEPT can get you back on track

Independence

Have the confidence to travel in unfamiliar settings, knowing PERCEPT is there to assist you at any point

O&M Approved

Collaborated with Orientation and Mobility Specialists to ensure the navigation instructions follow best mobility practices

Study Participant Testimonials

How It Works?

PERCEPT is an App for the blind and visually impaired that works in any PERCEPT enabled venue. Let's take a look at how PERCEPT works in the MBTA subway system in Boston Masschusetts. PERCEPT works in three simple steps.

Open

Open PERCEPT App on smartphone. PERCEPT provides what station you are currently at, what subway lines it services, and where you are located within the station.

Select

Select the destination on the screen. PERCEPT will then provide detailed navigation instructions to get you to your chosen destination.

Follow

These instructions are provided in easy to digest steps. Follow these instructions until you reach the destination. At any time you can shake your device to receive detailed rerouting instructions to your destination.

Would you like to know more about PERCEPT?

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