WalkersGuide is a navigational aid primarily intended for blind and visual impaired pedestrians. It calculates routes and shows nearby points of interest. The project consists of an Android client and a server component. The latter performs the route calculation. The map data is provided by OpenStreetMap, a project to create a free map of the world.
There are two reasons for the focus on blind and visual users:
- The currently available navigation systems which include a routing functionality don’t consider the needs of that user group. For example information about the condition of ways and streets, a description of intersections and details about distance and bearing of the next routing point often are missing. Of course the client application must be accessible to assistive technology like screen reading software too. In case of the Android operating system that’s Talkback.
- Meanwhile there exist solutions especially for blind and visual impaired users too. These are often apps for the iPhone operating system. But in summer 2013, when the project planning started, none of them offered a routing functionality. Instead they helped to get an overview about points of interest in the user’s surrounding. Other aids were outdated or very expensive.
Based on this findings, a concept for a routing based navigation aid for blind and visual impaired users was created as part of a diploma thesis at the TU Dresden. You can find further information about the thesis here. After the research was completed, the concept was implemented and is ready for download now.
- Based on chosen start and destination the server calculates a route, which is optimized for walkers. Source for start and destination can be the current position, an address, a point of interest or the point history.
- You can prioritise certain way classes to get a more accessible route. For example you may prefer secondary instead of primary streets to avoid complex intersections and reduce traffic noise.
- You get continuous feedback about distance and bearing of the next routing point.
- When you reach an intersection, you can query information about the name, condition and bearing of their streets in realtime.
- Beside the routing functionality the application also offers a list of nearby points of interest. This includes shops, public buildings, bus and train stations, intersections, traffic signals and some more.
- You can simulate every distant point like an address in another town or country. The application behaves as if you are really there. So it’s possible to explore the next route destination while still at home.
- You can add personal favorites to mark important points.
The WalkersGuide project is licensed under the GNU General Public License. Therefore it can be used for free. You only have to install the client application. See Downloads for that.
At the moment this WalkersGuide server instance provides the maps of several European countries. Have a look at its status page for more information. If you need a map, which is not listed there, please contact me.