EdgGuideIndoor Micronavigation to Enable Autonomy for the Visually Impaired
Announcing EdgGuide Indoor Micronavigation!
Beginning on September 16, people with visual impairments have a new way to experience the Denver Museum of Nature & Science thanks to EdgGuide, a micronavigation system that allows near pinpoint accuracy for indoor navigation. Blind Institute of Technology collaborated with CACI and the Museum to develop and launch this groundbreaking system!
When visually impaired individuals visit museums, concert halls, recreation centers, and other public facilities, they are faced with navigational challenges that do not often allow for full autonomy to move about the venue in a way similar to a fully-sighted person. Braille maps and placards remain the standard for determining position and direction, and this is problematic at best – finding braille signage often requires assistance and leaves the visually impaired with less freedom to simply move about as they choose, when they choose.
With a long and proven history of solving the toughest challenges facing government and commercial organizations around the world, CACI is dedicated to next-generations solutions that not only advance new technology, but also advance life-altering innovations. EdgGuide from CACI offers micronavigation technology that enables visually impaired individuals to navigate a building autonomously, allowing for a freedom of movement not currently available as part of standard practice.
EdgGuide’s micronavigation is based on CACI expertise in ultra-wideband indoor precision location and orientation technology. EdgGuide uses a system of wall-mounted anchors that don’t require any external network to operate. The visually impaired person using the navigation system then wears a tag that communicates with the transceivers and feedback monitors that provide audio and/or haptic feedback to the user.
EdgGuide uses a mobile application specifically adapted for the visually impaired that can be paired to a tag at the entrance to the venue. Using EdgGuide, the patron can inquire about physical location within the venue at any point with a high degree of accuracy and can listen to audio for pre-recorded exhibit information when applicable. Users can also be guided from one point to another within the venue.
- 802.15.4 ultra-wideband positioning technology proving 20cm indoor accuracy
- Wall-mounted anchors transmitting internal mesh network (required density of 30 anchors on the first floor of a typical large city museum)
- Anchors can be easily powered by either PoE or USB, minimizing facility integration.
- Body-worn tags calculating position based on anchor transmissions
- iOS application to query position inside the building, providing distance and/or direction to points of interest or a companion wearing another tag
- AutoCAD plug-in for ease of facility integration and planning
Denver Museum of Nature & Science Pilot
CACI has partnered with the Blind Institute of Technology (BIT) and the Denver Museum of Nature & Science (DMNS) to pilot EdgGuide technology. In the words of Mike Hess, Founder and CEO of BIT, “I would just like to take my son to the museum, without anybody helping me.”
EdgGuide provides a range of mobility to the halls of a museum. From floor plan analysis to consulting through the installation of anchors, tags, and preloaded applications, CACI provides testing and support throughout the integration process.
Once engaged, EdgGuide hardware is in constant communication, keeping track of the user’s location in the museum at all times. The patron will also be able to check their current location, attractions in their general area, and how far they are from particular points of interest.
PILOT PHASE 1
Point of Interest – Empowered with an easily manageable set of equipment, users can fully experience the Museum using EdgGuide’s narration about the surrounding area. Hands-free audio announces when users move into a new region or near a point of interest. Manually selecting the “Where Am I” prompt lets users know where they are at all times, and they can select an exhibit or point of interest as their destination. EdgGuide tracks their distance from the destination and announces when they arrive.
PILOT PHASE 2
Micro-navigation – With the simple addition of two small sensors clipped to each shoulder, users have all the same features as before, plus a game-changing navigation feature. The EdgGuide sensors use simple haptic feedback to steer users directly to their destination. Navigation works with the buddy feature as well, so if users and their companions get separated, users need no other assistance than EdgGuide to find their companion.
Demo on Stilts – For those who want to see how EdgGuide works but can’t visit the Museum where it is currently installed, Demo on Stilts is the perfect solution. Using just a custom iPad application and anchors attached to tripods, a fully-functioning EdgGuide system can be setup anywhere in about one hour, depending on the size of the space.
From Humble Beginnings
In 2018, LGS (now a part of CACI) partnered with BIT and the University of Denver to demonstrate the art of the possible. Equipped with sensor-driven transceivers and wearing a sensor-driven vest that directed his footsteps via buzzing sounds and vibrations, BIT’s Mike Hess was able to autonomously navigate a 400-meter outdoor track, going for a jog for the first time in decades.
“It’s hard to describe the many emotions I felt to be running again, independently, after so long,” Mike said. “The freedom—the autonomy—the huge boost to the quality of my life—to be able to go for a run, safely—all of these, and many other feelings, came rushing forward during my jog.
“I’m very grateful for the support and mentoring that CACI has provided in this effort,” Mike added. “Technology is the true enabler of this and countless other advances for the millions of blind and visually impaired people that can add so much to our workforce, our nation, and each other’s lives.”
NAVIGATING THE WORLD
Cities and buildings are getting smarter, and CACI is evolving with this progression. EdgGuide has the potential to not only allow the visually impaired easier access to museums and a jog around a track, but also faster and more autonomous navigation of the world around them.
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Blind Institute of Technology™ is a Denver-based nonprofit organization leading the charge to include disabled professionals in diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives nationwide. Believing that the key to opportunity is through education, preparation and accessible technology, BIT aims to help professionals with disabilities, and the employers who hire them, find success in the workplace. Our vision is a world in which people with disabilities have the same employment opportunities as their peers.