So, earlier this year, Perkins got funding from Google to develop an app to solve a problem people who are visually impaired have: finding the bus stop. Basically, the issue is that GPS is good to about 35 feet of where you want to go, but not reliably more precise than that. And 35 feet is not enough to get you to the right bus stop and be visibly waiting for the bus.
The goal was to provide an app that could (via crowdsourced info) provide additional location details to help someone navigate to the precise location, and ideally also help with when a bus was coming.
If you’re in the area served by the MBTA (greater Boston), you can download BlindWays on iOS (it’s designed to use VoiceOver). There’s a map of bus stops that indicates which stops need more clues. (Which right now is basically all of them.)
Clues are things that will help someone navigate. For example, on the closest stop to the Perkins campus, here’s what the clues say:
Approaching the stop with the street on your left
1) Before the stop, there is a fire hydrant.
2) Closer to the stop, there is a tree.
3) The bus stop sign is on a square pole, along the curb.
4) Beyond the stop there is a driveway.
5) Further past the stop, there is a metal pole.
On stops without clues, you can pick from predetermined options or do free form text entry clues. There are tips on the website for entry, and I believe also in the app. You can also edit clues or confirm them in the app.
The plan is, I believe, to test it in the MBTA, and then broaden it out from there, once they’ve got a solid chunk of geographic data and can test for bugs. It will also provide information about when the next bus should arrive at that stop, so useful if you are sighted, as well.