BlindSquare: App Uses Foursquare Data to Help the Blind Navigate Streets

The 20 million+ people on Foursquare have created an incredibly detailed crowdsourced directory. BlindSquare is an IOS app that’s making use of Foursquare’s two billion check-ins worldwide to help blind pedestrians find locations on foot or while using public transportation.

BlindSquare integrates Foursquare data with Apple’s native VoiceOver technology to create a location-based virtual map through sound. When the app is enabled, it reads addresses, street names and surrounding locations aloud. Directions are available on demand.

The technology was built to help blind individuals in unfamiliar areas. BlindSquare draws a map of information about surrounding streets, crossings and services nearby. Categories within the app include arts and entertainment, colleges, food, great outdoors, nightlife spots, residences, shops and travel. Foursquare map points show up ranked by number of check-ins.

The app was tested with blind individuals in Finland, the U.S. and Australia. One of the volunteers who tested the app used an iControlPad bluetooth gaming control to navigate within the app. The BlindSquare user attached the control to a guide dog’s harness.

The application is available for global use or wherever Foursquare data is available. The app also utilizes data from OpenStreetMap, a wiki-map of the world that anyone can edit. The app with speech synthesis technology supports 26 languages including English, Finnish and Swedish. The app even lets individuals who can’t see the screen check in to Foursquare. Just shake the device and you hear where you are [at] an address, or nearest crossing. If you are at some Foursquare place, you can re-shake to check in.

For more about the BlindSquare app, click this link to read the user guide at Google Docs.
Click here to purchase the app from the Apple iTunes Store.

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