Development of a Digital Sign System for Indoor Wayfinding by the Visually Impair

Award Information
Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
Branch: N/A
Contract: 9R44AG033522-02
Agency Tracking Number: EY017777
Amount: $1,454,610.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2008
Solicitation Year: 2008
Solicitation Topic Code: N/A
Solicitation Number: PHS2007-2
Small Business Information
DUNS: 927303412
HUBZone Owned: Y
Woman Owned: Y
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: Y
Principal Investigator
 (763) 463-4814
Business Contact
Phone: (763) 463-4814
Research Institution
DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): It is challenging for visually-impaired people to find their way in unfamiliar, complex indoor spaces such as schools or office buildings. GPS technology has already been exploited for speech-based navigation for visual ly-impaired wayfinding in outdoor environments, but there is no equivalent technology for indoor wayfinding. Sighted pedestrians may sometimes find indoor wayfinding challenging, but they can usually find their way with the help of signage. The inability t o easily access signage continues to be a major impediment to indoor wayfinding for people with visual disabilities. A team at the University of Minnesota Laboratory for Low-Vision Research, first demonstrated the feasibility of a Digital Sign System (DS S) to support indoor navigation for visually impaired people. In Phase I, this team worked in partnership with AME Corp. to develop evaluation prototype of the DSS system, and demonstrated its use for non-visual indoor navigation with human performance tes ts. The DSS system consists of a hand-held device that emits an infrared beam. The user pans the beam until a reflection from a retroreflective bar-coded sign is returned. Computer software reads the sign's image and feeds its identification code to a bu ilding database. Information, including the content of the sign and its position, is then retrieved from the database and provided to the user via synthetic speech. Feasibility prototypes of all system components have been developed and validated. The goal of this phase II project is to develop a production prototype for human testing. The engineering work will include designing an improved optical assembly and developing digital tag localization software that runs on a digital signal process in real time i n the prototype. This production prototype will be used to evaluate the efficacy of indoor wayfinding by visually impaired pedestrians via DSS and a spatial database with speech-based user interface called the Building Navigator. These production prototype s will be commercially viable. PUBLIC HEALTH RELEVANCE: Independent mobility is an important prerequisite for full participation in modern society. Reduced mobility and associated social isolation are among the most debilitating consequences of vision loss . The Digital Sign System is a significant new technology to assist wayfinding for people with vision loss because of the low cost required for a facility to implement it.

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

Agency Micro-sites

SBA logo
Department of Agriculture logo
Department of Commerce logo
Department of Defense logo
Department of Education logo
Department of Energy logo
Department of Health and Human Services logo
Department of Homeland Security logo
Department of Transportation logo
Environmental Protection Agency logo
National Aeronautics and Space Administration logo
National Science Foundation logo
US Flag An Official Website of the United States Government