Worldwide, 161 million people have vision impairment, and without intervention that number is expected to almost double by 2020. - World Health Organization


The blind and visually-impaired encounter serious problems in leading an independent life due to their reduced perception of the environment. New environments pose a huge challenge for them to perceive their surroundings without seeking help from others. Current training programs for blind and visually-impaired people in University settings require them to memorize a large amount of information for numerous buildings, leading to an increase in frustration on their part.

What is PERCEPT?

PERCEPT provides accurate and affordable navigation solution for the visually impaired in indoor environments using a Smartphone application. First generation of PERCEPT is piloted and successfully tested in Arlington Metro Station of the MBTA as well the in the Whitmore Administrative Building of the UMASS Amherst campus. The system uses electronic tags mounted at specific landmarks determined by Orientation and Mobility instructors. PERCEPT includes:

Real time interactivity

Users interact with PERCEPT electronic tags to establish their orientation within environment

Gesture Based User Interface:

Users interact with PERCEPT application using standard accessibility services.

Detailed navigation instructions

PERCEPT provides detailed navigation instructions which incorporate safe navigation fundamentals.

The system is developed at the 5G Evolution Lab directed by Dr. Aura Ganz at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst with financial support from the National Institutes of Health/National Eye Institute, and mentorship from Massachusetts Mobility and Orientation division from Massachusetts Commission for the Blind.

Significance & Public Impact Statement

The PERCEPT system will enhance the perception of indoor and unfamiliar environments of the blind and visually-impaired, as well as to aid in their navigation through such environments.

How It Works?

PERCEPT is a Vision Free Indoor Wayfinding Smartphone Application for the blind and visually impaired. PERCEPT works in three simple steps.


Scan the PERCEPT Tag within the environment. PERCEPT will determine and inform you of your current location.


Select the destination on the screen. PERCEPT will automically generate the wayfinding route from where you are located to where you would like to go.


Follow the wayfinding instructions until you reach the destination. At any time you may scan a nearby PERCEPT tag for updated wayfinding instructions.

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