You know when you go to the museum and use an audio guide to help you appreciate things you can’t really see? Well, researchers at the University of Michigan have developed a similar device for blind people.
It’s called the “Talking Points urban orientation system.” The mobile device uses Bluetooth technology to pick up info from the surrounding environment and relays it to the user—anything from the location of the nearest police station or park to the big sale happening at a store around the corner.
This device receives up-to-date info via a virtual “beacon” that businesses or organizations purchase for under $20. The hope is that eventually personal cell phones will be vehicles for the Talking Points system.
The idea is to enrich the experience of blind people while they’re getting from one location to another.
But the technology makes sense for others too, especially eager tourists exploring a city on foot or people new to the area.
Right now the prototype is used in Ann Arbor, Mich. Hopefully it’ll catch on elsewhere.