EdgGuideIndoor Micronavigation to Enable Autonomy for the Visually Impaired
Announcing EdgGuide Indoor Micro-localization!
Have you ever arrived at a building but didn’t know where to go? Over the last twenty years, GPS has enabled all kinds of location-based services and has made the art of reading a map obsolete. Unfortunately, GPS has done very little to help us navigate once we arrive at the entrance of a school, a mall, an airport, or a museum. Once you get to the front door, you’re pretty much on your own. At least until EdgGuide™.
EdgGuide is a collaboration between CACI and the Blind Institute of Technology (BIT) to provide an indoor micro-localization solution for the blind and visually impaired (BVI) so everyone can enjoy a technology enhanced experience. In addition, the Denver Museum of Nature & Science (DMNS) hosted a six-month pilot of the capability ending in the spring of 2020. By leveraging this technology, the museum was able to expand their services to a broader community: precision navigation for the BVI community, a ‘find your buddy’ feature, curated audio content that augments the tactile experience of blind and visually impaired, and exhibit-specific audio content available in multiple languages for audio learners.
The story of EdgGuide is a perfect example of how organizations like BIT, DMNS, and technology companies like CACI can come together to study and solve a hard problem. Mike Hess, CEO of BIT, has stated: “Technology is the great mitigator of all humanity and accessibility technology is especially impactful to the disabled community.” One of the key benefits of EdgGuide for the BVI community is the curation of content that describes in great detail not only what a museum exhibit describes on a placard, but also everything about its surroundings that sighted people absorb. Not one of us knew this before kicking off the pilot, but together we learned this was a critical and compelling part of the overall experience. None of this would have happened if we weren’t all committed to the challenging work of solving a hard problem together.
Technologies like EdgGuide allow companies to hire corporate-ready professionals from the disabled community – addressing the extremely high unemployment rates of professionals with disabilities. Technology contributes to a greater quality of life for the entire community and to the opportunity for disabled professionals to engage in a career and to an active membership in that diverse community.
Working together, we imagined a technology augmented experience that enables sighted, blind, or visually impaired patrons to autonomously navigate to their destination efficiently and safely, elevators that are inoperable, or restrooms that are temporarily closed for cleaning. EdgGuide provides information, when you need it based on where you are, in the language of your preference, with the level of depth and detail that makes visiting a government building, an entertainment venue, or a cultural landmark a rewarding and enriching experience. Delivering autonomy for all, unlike ever before!
- 802.15.4 ultra-wideband localizing 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.
- OS application to query location 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-localization – 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.”
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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.