The Waymap app helps visually impaired people navigate public transport – TechCrunch

Based in London Road map wants to help visually impaired people navigate their surroundings and starts with public transport. The company has just completed a closed two-week trial of its navigation app at three subway stations in Washington, D.C., and hopes to begin a public test of 25 subway stations and 1,000 bus stops by September, according to Waymap.

“What we’ve learned from our experience is that it’s so important to blind people because when you lose your sight, you lose the freedom to explore,” said Tom Pay, CEO and founder of Waymap, who founded the company after losing his own his vision at 39 years old. old, he told TechCrunch.

“The average blind person uses about 2.5 routes regularly. And that means they have to go to the grocery store and the drugstore. And the reason for this is the amount of information you have to remember when you lose your sight, and to pack it all in your head is quite difficult, as well as trying to protect yourself using your basic mobility. So what we’re doing is replacing human memory and giving people access to endless memory in terms of routing, and that allows them, with their mobility skills, to go anywhere.

Going everywhere is, of course, a long-term goal as the company grows, but in the short term Waymap starts with public transport before branching out to places like museums, hotels, hospitals or other public buildings. The company has tested its technology around the world, but Washington, DC will be the first city in which the application is located.

The Waymap app provides free audio step-by-step instructions to users, guiding them within 3 feet of accuracy. And Waymap really means it when it says “step by step” because the launch doesn’t use GPS to track users; it touches the sensors of the smartphone’s inertial measurement module – magnetometers, accelerometers and barometers – to obtain data such as how fast someone is walking, what their gait is, whether they are going up or down stairs. This data is then fed into Waymap’s own algorithm, which relies on Bayesian statistics to scatter 5,000 possible positions where the user can be based on his next step and figure out where, based on the probability, he probably is. This algorithm is implemented in conjunction with Waymap’s “map matching” algorithm to provide accurate instructions to users.

Someone using the app can hear at every step of the journey something like:

“Turn at 10 o’clock, then continue forward for four steps. Turn at 2 o’clock for the footpath. After the footpath, continue straight. In 10 steps, turn for 1 hour for the trail. In nine steps, turn to 1 o’clock. Follow the path… ”

For the purposes of the latest DC test, Waymap had its 15 visually impaired users, seven sighted users and three orientation and mobility instructors attach their phones to belt holsters.

Screenshot of the Waymap app

The Waymap app shows basic commands for visually impaired users that move around them. Image credits: Road map

“Our algorithm records the kinetic energy you use to walk, and this allows us to understand the approximate speed at which you walk and the probable length of the step,” said Pei, noting that the application first captures the user’s location using GPS or even “non-location” such as the user’s front door, previously relying only on sensors to determine where the user is in relation to his environment.

“Once we know the speed or length of the step and know where you are, the algorithm works with 99.999% certainty where your next step will be,” Pei continued. “If you change the speed, we find this because this energy passes through your thigh. Therefore, we remain 99.999% sure where you are. “

Getting an exact location also depends on mapping the environment. As the Waymap increases, it will take maps from local public authorities or open street maps when mapping the outside of public transport stops and stations. However, for its DC testing process, Waymap uses didin scanning to map stations as well as 360-degree video. The scan provided the basic layout of the stations, and the videos helped identify obstacles or points of interest – such as poles, trash cans or seating areas – for people with disabilities.

In the future, when the use of Waymap reaches a critical mass, Pei wants to attract sighted people to use the app while traveling so that they can effectively donate to startup data about their steps and the way they maneuver around positions. This will help Waymap algorithms learn through constantly updated maps and route information.

Waymap recently completed the preliminary series A worth $ 4.9 million (£ 4 million) and plans to increase its A series next year. The funds will be used to further develop the technology in all areas of localization and mapping, as well as to build the startup’s business development team in the United States, according to Pay.

Pei expects Waymap, which already generates profits from transit authorities and cities, to be profitable soon after its next boost.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.