Multi-modal Application for the Perception of Spaces (MAPS) is an Android tablet application and wearable USB peripheral that provides an on-the-go stereo-tactile, audio, and high-contrast visual map of interior spaces for individuals who are blind or visually impaired. The tactile display peripheral, similar to ear buds (but worn on two fingers), plugs into the standard USB port on any modern Android tablet;providing independent cues for touch screen exploration. The mobile application accesses building maps via wireless Internet, rendering simultaneously through the USB peripheral and the tablet's built-in audio/visual displays. Problem to be addressed: Independent function in new or unfamiliar environments requires acquisition of survey knowledge. No practical solution currently exists for on-the-go access to interior space information. Existing touch screen-based accessible map displays rely on pre-printed raised line overlays, and no commercial system exists for access to building layouts. Long-Term Goal: Using their Android tablet (or iPad), customers will download the MAPS application from the online marketplace and purchase the stereo-tactile USB peripheral from a linked web site. The MAPS application will provide low-cost subscription access to an online database of Building Information Model (BIM) architectural data. Phase I Summary: Phase I focuses on demonstration of concept feasibility through a prototype MAPS system and a pilot study investigating the effectiveness of the multi-modal map display. Successful accomplishment of the program"s specific aims will provide a solid base for Phase II commercial product development.
Specific Aim 1 : Demonstrate superiority of the stereo-tactile/audio MAPS display over audio-only map display in acquisition of survey knowledge of unfamiliar environments Specific Aim 2: Assess stakeholder usability and technology acceptance of a MAPS system The program brings together a team with world-class experience, research credentials, and domain knowledge to support successful development of the proposed technology including: the Barron Associates PI (two decades experience leading complex R&D projects, including haptic-assisted virtual reality training), Virginia Commonwealth University Haptics Laboratory (leading assistive technology/tactile display researchers), Designing Digitally Inc. (web-based/mobile software experts), and the Virginia Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired (rehabilitation services/training providers). Commercial Opportunity: In the exploding Android tablet/iPad market, release of a MAPS application will quickly expose a large percentage of the over 3 million Americans who are blind or visually impaired (and many more world-wide) to this exciting new technology. Other applications for the stereo-tactile USB peripheral (including street maps, education, and gaming) will rapidly evolve in the dynamic mobile app marketplace.
The proposed Multi-modal Application for the Perception of Spaces (MAPS) system will promote functional independence in individuals who are blind or visually impaired by enabling non-visual/low-vision access to multi-modal survey information on interior spaces. MAPS, comprised of an Android tablet, application software, and a stereo-tactile USB peripheral, will enable users to acquire survey knowledge of an environment through high-fidelity tactile cues, audio sonification/text-to-speech, and, if appropriate, high contrast graphis. MAPS users will benefit from the rapidly expanding availability of industry-standard digital building information, facilitating independent navigation in a broad range of vocational and recreational settings (e.g. airports, office building, museums, metro stations, shopping malls).