The blind and visually impaired can’t rely on traditional signage, and the GPS does not normally work inside a building. To overcome this hurdle, the Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access (IDeA) at the University at Buffalo and Touch Graphics developed a series of touch-responsive talking models which were placed at campuses for the blind.
Each talking map re-presents the spatial layout of its nearest surroundings in a multi-sensory format, with the needs of the blind addressed as being the most important, but usable by everyone.
The models are touch responsive; as you explore them with your hands and fingers, they announce the names of the thing you are touching followed by a description of activities taking place at each place and, finally, spoken directions for walking to that place.
Through user testing, the developers optimised sensing algorithms to ensure that users with different degrees of hand strength and dexterity found the systems easy and enjoyable to use.
Touch has become an important aspect of our everyday interactions. Think of ipads, iphones and other such devices and much more will be possible in the future when it comes to life like experiences like these.