BeAware: A New App That Helps Visually Impaired People Navigate

animated photo of a blind man with a cane walking towards a traffic cone. The traffic cone is an abstraction in his path.

In recent years, we have seen newer technologies provide guidance to people with visual impairment as they navigate from one point to another. A combination of beacons, bluetooth and phone gives a person step by step guidance on where to walk, where to turn, and how to reach their destination with ease. Using similar technology and concept, One Sense, a Fresno, CA based company is providing guidance to visually impaired users specifically on where obstructions are so that they can walk to their destination without interruptions and hindrance.

Typically, permanent obstructions are easy to identify and remember, and can be easily avoided. However, temporary hazards like construction, road blocks etc. are not easy to bypass. This is where One Sense’s app BeAware comes into the picture and makes navigation much smoother. 

How Does It Work And What Does It Do?

One Sense does this using its app called BeAware which utilizes beacons placed everywhere to provide location accuracy in order to determine where exactly the user is, and to provide location based navigation. When a visually impaired person approaches an obstacle, BeAware immediately alerts them on either their phone and/or smart watch in the form of audio and vibration notification, thus effectively steering them away from it. When the temporary obstacle is removed (e.g. construction is over), markers for that obstruction can be removed from the app as well. With BeAware, visually impaired people can move around in their local area with safety and confidence, knowing that the app will provide them with accurate navigation guidance.

The platform essentially has three components:

  • The admin software that allows the administrator(s) to place and remove markers for newer obstacles (like construction), as well as provide notifications for them.
  • The mobile Installer that lets adding and editing markers for obstacles on the go.
  • The user app BeAware which is used by the visually impaired person for navigation.

Recently, One Sense implemented BeAware at Fresno State University in California, helping visually impaired students navigate several new construction zones that have cropped up, thanks to the changing face of the campus. The University’s Facilities & Operations department tells the app administrators of newer constructions, and the app is updated accordingly. The One Sense team works with students one on one, and makes sure that the app is doing what it is supposed to do. Watch the video below to find out more.

Who Is It For?

One Sense is already talking with several schools, universities and other establishments that are interested in BeAware. Any group or organization interested in BeAware can get in touch with One Sense through their website, emailing directly at connect@onesense.io, calling 866-552-3985 or tweeting at @getonesense. One Sense’s team will then have a call or video chat to assess what needs the customer has in accessibility. after which an in person demo and a site survey follows. Currently, One Sense is working with clients in the US but is keen on working with international clients too. “We love working with any customer who is interested in improving accessibility for their visually impaired students, guests, and faculty”, says Bryan Sory, who is responsible for sales & marketing at One Sense.

Cost

Costs for implementation vary, and rightly so, since every customer is different in terms of topography, campus complexity, and number of moveable obstructions or construction projects. One Sense construct bespoke implementations for each unique customer such that their exact requirements are met then the team constantly monitors their iBeacon and GPS points as a ‘sanity check’ to help them reduce their slip/trip/fall liability exposure. 

Read more about BeAware implementation at Fresno State here.

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2 Comments

  1. Great article, Venkat. Spot on.

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