Today, we have another way of using the smartphone to increase the mobility of the visually impaired.
This time, it is not an entirely new device, as in the “Braille Smartphone” post a couple of weeks ago, but rather an app for iOS. It is called the Ariadne GPS, after the lady who used a rope to lead the ancient Greek hero Theseus out of the labyrinth of the Minotaur, after he defeated it.
Much like in the legend, the app is used to help visually impaired people find their way around. In order to do so, it uses the GPS system of the device to tell the users his/her location. It will compare this to coordinates that are already on the phone, like streets and numbers, or useful locations. This means that what you will actually hear is the descriptin of one of these locations, and how far away you are from them.
A second functionality of the app is a rather special map tool. This will read out loud the place your finger is touching on the map. Hence, by sliding your finger accross the screen, you can get an impression of the streets around you, and because of that, a better feeling of orientation.
Compare this post to the “Braille Smartphone” post of the 25th of November. Do you think it is better to sense what’s on the screen using touch as described there, or do you think the voice, reading what’s on screen out loud to you, has more benefits? This goes both for this particular application as well as for smartphones in general. In my opinion it is more or less a trade-off getting the information you need faster (in case of the voice) versus using a sense that you do not continuously require (in case of touch). If you have an opinion on this, please let us know in the comments.
More information on the Ariadne GPS, as well as the download, can be found on their site: http://www.ariadnegps.eu/