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Audiom: Developing an Indoor Non-Visual Mapping System

Award Information
Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
Branch: National Institutes of Health
Contract: 1R41EY034411-01A1
Agency Tracking Number: R41EY034411
Amount: $275,766.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: STTR
Solicitation Topic Code: NEI
Solicitation Number: PA22-178
Solicitation Year: 2022
Award Year: 2023
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2023-06-01
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2024-05-31
Small Business Information
Gilroy, CA 95020-3005
United States
DUNS: 121574147
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 (415) 345-2000
Business Contact
Phone: (650) 833-9394
Research Institution
SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94115-1813
United States

 Domestic Nonprofit Research Organization

Project Abstract
Indoor navigation for blind and visually impaired individuals (BVIs) within unfamiliar locations is typically an
incredibly anxiety-provoking and stressful experience for numerous reasons, e.g., inaccessible signage
including directories and venue maps, and if braille signs do exist, they are difficult to find, lack directional
information, and are useless to the BVIs who do not read braille. For large areas, such as office buildings,
stadiums, stores, malls, hospitals, museums, and hotels, BVIs must laboriously obtain extremely detailed
directions beforehand or use human guides to navigate these independently. Indoor tactile maps are too
expensive, too difficult to obtain, inaccessible to non-braille readers, often too complicated to understand, and
only convey limited information. Digital maps requiring external devices, such as a vibration mouse, pin matrix,
or force-feedback device are expensive to produce and acquire, which make these solutions impractical when
discussing mass adoption or web accessibility. The result is an inordinate expenditure of time, money, and
mental effort around navigation that significantly decreases quality of life and independence for BVIs. The
majority of BVIs have repeatedly asked for maps to be part of wayfinding systems in wayfinding research, but
there has been little research on digital non-visual maps, and no research evaluating how maps coupled with
turn-by-turn navigation systems (TBTNS) can enhance the wayfinding ability of BVIs.
To solve these problems, a digital cross-sensory map viewer called Audiom-Indoor will be developed to show
indoor data that can be used with a TBTNS to enhance wayfinding for BVIs. Audiom-Indoor, unlike expensive
tactile maps that are rarely available and on hand when needed, will be available on any device with a web
browser, and be accessible to the many BVIs who are non-braille readers. Users will be able to explore data
through an interactive auditory and text virtual reality interface that only require headphones, in contrast to
other map viewers that generally only have one modality on one platform.
Aim 1 will co-design (participatory design) and develop a proof of concept of a digital auditory indoor map
viewer with BVIs outlined above. Goodmaps, the TBTNS partner, will make any needed modifications to their
existing data set of the study location, the American Printing House for the Blind (APH) Offices.
Aim 2 will evaluate the Goodmaps TBTNS alone, and with Audiom at APH. In each condition, BVI participants
will travel a route aided by the tool, then again unaided by the tool.
The proposed aims will establish both a new approach for digital non-visual map viewers, and measure the
effect maps have when used with a TBTNS. If digital maps do positively enhance wayfinding with a TBTNS, it
will facilitate greater independent travel, leading to a higher quality of life for BVIs.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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