WeWALK: Self-calibrating navigation system to help with visual impairment
Developing a self-calibrating navigation system using a ‘smart’ device that affixes to existing white canes to help those visually impaired to navigate safely indoors and out.
About the project
People with sight loss benefit from the white cane to get around, often in conjunction with smartphone navigation apps. These can include accessibility features such as screen readers, colour filters, and dexterity tools. However, a long cane can only detect obstacles below knee-height and within approximately 1m of the user. Moreover, most smartphone interfaces are not developed with sufficient compatibility for these accessibility features, limiting their usefulness. This makes it particularly challenging for visually impaired individuals (VIIs) to navigate safely in busy urban areas, especially where cars, bicycles, and pedestrians are found in close proximity.
WeWALK have developed a revolutionary “smart” device that screws onto a user’s existing cane, upgrading a tool relied on by over 50 million people. The cane detects obstacles at knee-to-head height and uniquely connects to a user’s smartphone to provide audio-based navigation via integration with Google Maps, Moovit, and Microsoft services.
Efforts to enhance WeWALK’s indoor positioning by the project partners have uncovered that seamless wayfinding in all environments, including outdoors, is possible with situational awareness. This project will address this challenge, including the last-mile problem where individuals fail to locate their final destination or transport route, creating a fully autonomous, comprehensive, safety-critical, and accessible navigation system for older VIIs.