BlindSquare App Description & Overview
BlindSquare is pioneering accessible navigation both indoors and outdoors. Know where you are, know where you're going, travel with confidence.
BlindSquare is a new solution that combines the latest technology to help the blind with their daily lives. It has been developed in collaboration with blind people and carefully field tested. You need either an iPhone or an iPad to get started. It also supports some additional accessories to enhance the experience.
How does it work?
BlindSquare uses GPS and the compass to locate you. It then gathers information about the surrounding environment from FourSquare. BlindSquare has some unique algorithms to decide what information is the most relevant and then speaks it to you with high quality speech synthesis.
“What's the most popular café within 200 meters radius? Where is the post office or the library?”
You can control BlindSquare also through voice commands. The Voice Command feature is a premium service requiring purchase of credits for continuous use. Voice Command Credits are available as an in-app purchase on the App Store.
Using BlindSquare as a GPS solution:
When you start the app, it will start telling you the interesting places and street crossings around you. By changing the radius, you can limit the area you are interested in. You can also search by search term or by category. You can select an interesting place from the search results and perform the following tasks:
1) Get contact info (address, phone number)
2) Open twitter feed or restaurant menu (if provided)
3) Make a phone call
4) Start tracking the place (BlindSquare will assist you by repeating the distance and the clock face direction)
5) Start your favourite navigator for turn-by-turn instructions (TomTom, Navigon or Apple Maps)
BlindSquare is aware of when you travel by car, bus or train and starts to report interesting places in front of you (for example, the next stops) and street crossings when you are passing them.
You can also save your own private places to iCloud so they will be found with your every device.
Using BlindSquare as a Foursquare client:
If you like to play Foursquare, you can do the following with BlindSquare:
1) Get a list of nearby FourSquare venues
2) When you are in a place, you can check in by shaking your device
3) Do a check in with commenting and twitter/facebook sharing
4) Correct the location of the place
BlindSquare supports the following languages: English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Dutch, Finnish, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Czech, Russian, Estonian, Polish, Arabic, Turkish, Portuguese, Japanese, Greek, Romanian, Croatian, Hungarian, Korean and Bulgarian.
VoiceOver usage is supported but it also includes higher quality additional speech synthesis by Acapela Text-To-Speech from Acapela Group.
Instructions in English: http://help.blindsquare.com/instructions and http://blindsquare.com/faq
Please note: This app retrieves data in real time from Foursquare and Open Street Map. Use of a flat rate data plan is highly recommended.
Having only been released in May 2012, BlindSquare has already received several prizes and awards:
- GSMA: Global Mobile Awards 2013, Best Mobile Health Product or Service
- Apps4Finland 2012
- OpenCities App Challenge 2012
- The Finnish Information Processing Association: Best Product 2012
Please note: To use BlindSquare, your iCloud account has to be active so BlindSquare can access it to save your settings and places.
Continued use of GPS running in the background can dramatically decrease battery life.
Fix - VoiceOver Bug
A VoiceOver bug, introduced in iOS v.10, has been corrected. Now, auto-updating fields works again. When you leave VoiceOver cursor over a data field, you will hear changes automatically. (Examples, compass, speed, heading, etc.)
Feature - New Message Types
BlindSquare BPS (Indoor navigation) will gain new types (examples, fire exits and pedestrian crossing) providing identifying tones preceding spoken details.
Feature - Improved Compass
Improved management of COMPASS while indoors. We have accelerated the response-to-turns and suppressed the signalling from GPS sources while operating within a beacon cloud, preventing stray messaging triggered by location changes.
Feature - Perkins BlindWays Integration
In March, at CSUN, we jointly announced a partnership between Perkins School for the Blind (Perkins) and BlindSquare supporting the delivery of the greatest transit information solution in North America. Perkins has created an incredible product called BlindWays on the iOS platform. BlindWays gathers, from crowd-sources, inner-circle information for the areas around bus stops. Detailed are descriptions, cautions and clues to best-support the transit rider as they approach their bus stop. Examples on approach, to learn of the presence of bus shelters, landmarks in proximity, trash containers, and more including a description of the actual location of the stop (ie, “on a post”). This, to provide micro-navigation within the inner circle but more, independence. BlindWays provides meaningful descriptions, using consistent language, raising confidence in travel. BlindWays, sponsored by Google, is celebrating its first deployment in Boston, Massachusetts in the USA. 7800 bus stops will soon be fully described with 70% now available.
We were approached by Google and Perkins to explore the connecting of services between BlindSquare (providing global travel support, live and simulated) to BlindWays information (providing inner circle navigation within the 5 meter/16 feet) of benefit to our common friend, the traveler who is blind/partially-sighted or deaf-blind. We shared the vision of the logic and desire to connect the services. BlindSquare version 4.26 presents this solution.
Friends in Boston now have the following features available:
Automatically, on approach to bus stops, advise about the route and bus services specific to the location. This includes expected arrival times, by bus.
On request, by shaking the device OR by pressing the Fast/Forward button on Media controls (whether wired or bluetooth), hear secondary transit information regarding service changes or disruptions.
On request, by pressing the Fast/Forward or rewind button ons Media controls (whether wired or bluetooth), skip-forward or back, through messaging to speed access to information of greatest interest or to review.
On request, by shaking by shaking the device OR by pressing the Fast/Forward button on Media controls (whether wired or bluetooth), hear BlindWays’ detailed descriptions of “the inner circle” on approach to the stop. No longer, the risk of standing in a wrong location only to hear the bus expected, driving by.
On request, by using the simple Voice Command or the Audio Menu selection “Bus” - request the information relative to the location of interest. Locations can be simulated from any global location, across the city or across the globe.
Example, search for “145 Dartmouth Boston”, Simulate this location. Speak the Voice Command “Bus”. Listen, shake as you may wish to unlock secondary information including Service Disruption announcements and BlindWays data.
We are proud of the work and partnering with Perkins to create the most-informed transit rider on the planet.
[Demonstration of BlindSquare and BlindWays integration, by Ilkka Pirttimaa]https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/5129261/BlindWays-demo.mp3 .
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