Oct 31, 2020 | Updated: 09:48 PM EDT

Android GPS For The Blind

Nov 12, 2013 11:45 AM EST


Android GPS technologies are excellent for the blind. Android is a rapidly growing option for mobile users who are blind. How it impacts innovation, quality on the human life and the evolution of these technologies shows how far we have come today with advancements. Real time communication takes only minutes whereas a traditional approach would have taken hours. Android GPS is one of the main areas where the blind are benefiting greatly.

The majority of blind users are still on 2G mobile phones with voice telephony. These users depend on navigation tools such as GPS. Usually the devices include raised Braille labels and voice enabled commands which are at a premium price. Android OS smartphones powered by Qualcomm can integrates the useful capabilities for the blind through its technologies. Its UI interfaces are designed as eye-free and have cost effective options. Qualcomm is a company committed to innovation, willing to build their capabilities, and open to a new view of value will likely be the first to reap the rewards to help patients achieve better outcomes.  

Google / Tech PP

GPS (global positioning system) navigation for Android typically include functionalities such as a built-in GPS receiver, satellite access with improved battery functionalities. These functionalities enable blind or visually impaired mobile users to better learn of their surroundings before even reaching a destination point. This is valuable to have access to an unfamiliar environment where the user can also use the keyboard or touchscreen to be pre-informed of new data such as exploring neighborhood streets, seeking out places to stay such as a hotel, restaurants and more.

Google’s Eyes-Free group offers a specialized  program for the blind to virtually navigate via touchscreen. There is a feature called  Intersection Explorer where users can navigate the touchscreen with just a finger and find closest intersections to assist in creating a mental map of the explored areas of choice. The Eyes-Free Places Directory can search by category of nearby places. Blind users can find anything from local businesses to local hotels and more.

Intersection Explorer Key Features:

  • Intersection Explorer starts off at the user's current location.

  • One can change the start position by entering an address, to do this, press menu and click on new location.

  • Once the map has loaded, touching the screen speaks the streets at the nearest intersection.

  • Moving one's finger along a compass direction, and then tracing a circle speaks each street

  • Presence of streets is cued by a slight vibration as one traces the circle.

  • Lifting up the finger when on a street moves in that direction to the next intersection

  • Speaks the distance moved, and finally speaks the newly arrived-at intersection.

*Google Eyes-Free Blog

Samsung Galaxy 10 running Honeycomb is also GPS enabled for the blind. The tablet supports GPS, Wi-Fi Bluetooth and also comes with a built in accelerometer, compass and gyroscope. Battery life lasts for up to 10 hours. The devices measures at an estimate of 6.9 by 10.1 by 0.3 inches.

Android apps also integrate with GPS and Android devices for the blind. These apps offer voice command tools such as built-in text-to-speech. GPS apps for Android offer a lot of in-demand features to make information easily available.

According to World Health Organization, “285 million people are visually impaired worldwide: 39 million are blind and 246 have low vision…About 65 percent of all people who are visually impaired are aged 50 and older, while this age group comprises about 20 percent of the world’s population. With an increasing elderly population in many countries, more people will be at risk of age-related visual impairment.

We love that this is the future and helping the blind will not limit them to opportunities!

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