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Guiding Sounds - Providing independence and safety to the visually impaired in order to navigate the outside world.

Community feedback received
Expert feedback received
Submission completed
Idea under jury review
Mentor feedback received

This project provides the visually impaired a solution to walk independently and safely

People that are visually impaired don’t have the same experience navigating the world as non-disabled people.

A clear example happens when individuals that are blind have to find a bus stop to carry on their daily chores. People that are blind cannot easily find bus stops and specific locations as Google Maps cannot provide such detailed data. If a blind person is walking down the street, the information of their location won’t only be off for a few meters, but relevant data such as on which side of the road they are and where bus stops are located is not available. Moreover, for Google Maps to provide more precise information,  it needs a reliable internet making it less accessible for people.

How are they meant to find their way without help, be independent and safe if they cannot access the same information as non-disabled people can? Visually impaired people end up wasting time asking for help and putting themselves in dangerous situations.

Our project involves creating a solution that is accessible, scalable and cost-efficient for the visually impaired. This solution allows for blind individuals to access real-time information of their location, enabling them to find exactly where they are, interacting with the world in a whole new way. It works by sending information to smartphones in the form of inaudible packages through small speakers. This technology allows the user to access information on their precise location and extra data to help them navigate with ease.

Accessible: 

No need for an internet connection once the app is downloaded, meaning it can be used in remote areas 

Scalable: 

Once you create the first instruction it can be uploaded to any location. No extra labour involved

It can be used anywhere in the world

Easy to update and automate processes Allows for extra connection to the internet making it easy to update real-time.

Cost-efficient: 

Low-cost speakers - per location there only needs to be less than three speakers (under 20USD apiece) One-time installation, maintenance and coding, unless extra features are added

 

Define three specific objectives that you would like to achieve with your proposal.

  • Support the visually impaired community to allow them to have more confidence, feel secure and being more efficient when going out.

  • Find an ecosystem where the problem is more prevalent and test the pilot ( NY, schools areas for visually impaired)Find support from the government and private sector for the solution in different ecosystems to implement the solution. 

What problems (particularly in value chain competitiveness and global disruption) are your community’s stakeholders facing due to the Covid-19 pandemic?

COVID-19 has created challenges across the board, affecting each and every one of us.

When it comes to the blind community it is important to identify their previous limitations and understand how COVID-19 has intensified their problems, making them less safe, more reliant on strangers and less confident when navigating the outside world.

As lockdowns spread across the world, there are fewer people on the street to support blind individuals. Moreover, the 2-meter distance rule recommended by the WHO is incredibly difficult for them to follow as they do not know their distance from others and need to constantly ask for support even if just to send a letter.

 

What minimum viable solution(s) are you proposing to address the challenge(s) in your community?

The current MVS has been already developed. It consists of a small solar-powered speaker and a complementary app. The cost is approximately 20 USD.  This was developed taking into account the current challenges experienced by visually impaired individuals and the available technology. The main challenge is the mass production and implementation in terms of regulations and permits provided by the public sector. Another key collaboration is with the private sector, specifically mobile phones of Google to integrate to their current solutions. Future features will be developed based on user experience and needs.

Based on qualitative interviewing in Paris and California, the main issues that have been identified by visually impaired individuals when navigating outside of their homes are:

  • They need to rely on strangers to reach a destination. This not only represents a safety risk but when in an area that has no people they cannot find their way. 

  • They often don’t know when to cross streets: For example,  when crossing the street, they don’t know how much time left until the light changes back to red 

  • They often can’t find bus stations or know where to get off when riding the bus. For example, they do not know when to get off a bus because oftentimes it doesn’t say the station. These examples vary depending on the accessibility capabilities of a city. 

With the coronavirus, places like Paris have installed facilities such as hand sanitizer points. Blind individuals cannot access those or any other new service without extra help

The detail on the tech:

The speaker has an old, non-expensive and trusted technology that it's already implemented on the streets. The difference is the use. All that's needed is to reproduce a specific sound from those speakers to make them compatible with the app. Speakers can also broadcast useful information both in an audible and inaudible way at the same time (Beacons can't). The app that accompanies the speakers to work,  requires microphone listening that can be also used for any emergency with speech recognition. When comparing to beacons, having BLE and a mic opened on your phone will drain your battery way faster.

The solar-powered panel will keep the battery of the speaker charged. This was the speakers will be fully independent, it's not viable to use battery-only devices as it's not efficient keeping track of power for every speaker. Location data will be provided by the app. This app listens to 3 impulses at 19kHz, this one will display information assigned to those impulses. I hope this makes sense.

Custom speakers will be sold to the city or private clients. The app is complimentary. I don't want the visual impaired to pay for something that should be already provided by your government. Therefore partnerships with government and private sector will be needed.

 

 

Share your story (your narrative)

Lorena was born being able to see, but she has something called Leber congenital amaurosis. This is a progressive severe visual impairment, which means that the older she gets the less she can see. She is now over her 20s and almost fully blind, more so in the evenings where she cannot see at all. This has forced her to adapt to a new lifestyle that is full of limitations, many of which people are not aware of.


Lorena has always been fully independent, but as she is going blind she is struggling more and more to keep this independence. She is originally from Venezuela and recently moved to France. Lorena is learning the language and to adapt to the culture which is is hard enough already for any immigrant. Europe has many initiatives to support disabled people, but there is much more to do. When Lorena goes out, she can’t know where the bus stops are, and always need someone to help her. This is one of the many problems she encounters navigating the outside world.


Things get worse when its the evening, and there is no one on the street to help her find her way. Google Maps helps but doesn't give accurate information, making it hard to even cross a street. For people that can see, Google Maps is enough, but not for the visually impaired.


She is having to rely on people, affecting her self esteem, her independence and safety. A simple task for someone that is not blind that would only take minutes (such as sending a letter), can take her hours.


Our solution allows people like Lorena to navigate the world accurately, without compromising on safety nor relying on internet connection.


We have created a system, where speakers deliver a specific frequency to smartphones, sending information packages with accurate information on their current location and proximity to different areas (such as buses).


We hope for a world where people that have disabilities are not limited and their capabilities to perform in society fully embraced and developed. If we want a better economy that is diverse, we need to support every type of diversity including this one. 


I invite you to learn more about what visually impaired people go through to see how you can support them

Please provide any additional relevant information that you would like to share.

I have a background in Sound engineering and over 10 years of experience in the field. This helps me develop my project more efficiently. Additionally, for its development, I have created a partnership with the largest speaker manufacturer in the world.

Your Final Proposal for challenge

yes

edited on Aug 31, 2020 by Carlos Mosquera
Commenting is closed

Angela Matlapeng 7 months ago

Hi Carlos. Great product and way to go for thinking about inclusion of persons with disability. Pity i'm out of votes. :-(

You mentioned a downside of Google Maps as needing reliable internet access to function. I just wanted to say that you can save a map for offline use and apparently Google has increased this from 30 days to now 1 year. Also check out report on Google's most recently released feature to help the Visually Impaired with Navigation. You can now enable Detailed Voice Guidance for Maps. See what they have addressed and what features you can add to your product to address what's missing, like what you mentioned about lacking relevant data such as on which side of the road one is, very good one considering how the compass isn't always accurate.
https://www.forbes.com/sites/berenicemagistre...n/#18c596691979

Carlos Mosquera 7 months ago

Yes, you can download the map but you still need service for location tracking and that's what the visually impaired actually needs. Also, Google maps doesn't show the exact the location of a bus stop for example. It's awesome that Google Maps is now working on new features for the visually impaired but it seems they are still satellite service based.

EUNICE KAJALA 7 months ago

Hi Carlos,

It is a good initiative of inclusion for people with disability, add some information on personal protection from COVID-19.

James Kiruri 7 months ago

Hi Carlos, seems like the right idea for this time of the Covid19 pandemic. Google maps for offline use are now available, kindly see if this would help. All the best and well done.

Carlos Mosquera 7 months ago

Yes, you can use the map offline but there's no audible guideline without satellite service. Thanks!

Aron Shoker 7 months ago

This is one of those ideas that ate brilliant.

This has been a problem for blind people for decades.

And I think you solving this problem with the app is a good turning point.

Well done!

Dominic Mills-Howell 7 months ago

Hi Carlos,

I really like this idea! It seems to be well-thought out and researched. Have you looked at similar products in the market to see who your competitors are and assessed your competitive advantage?

Moreover, what's your business model? Are you offering this product as a freemium package that has unlockable bonus features upon payment of a small fee?

Carlos Mosquera 7 months ago

Thanks. It's a free app. The idea is that cities would buy custom speakers for this.

Shawn Melville 7 months ago

Hi Carlos,
You have a great idea which is much needed among the community of persons with visual impairment. I have a few questions for you regarding your prototype and business model.
1. How is your prototype different from other beacon navigation solutions that already exist to help blind and low vision users such as WayFindr and Right-Hear?
2. How do you plan on overcoming the challenge of production and distribution of you product?
3. Have estimated whether you can make your product at a price that is affordable to the end user?
4. How do you intend to reach your target market and what challenges you are likely to encounter?
5. What is your business model? In other words, how will you generate revenue and manage expenses?

Carlos Mosquera 7 months ago

Hi Shawn,
1. Speaker is an old, cheap and trusted technology that it's already implemented on the streets. We just need to reproduce a specific sound from those speakers to make them compatible with the app. Speakers can also broadcast useful information both in an audible and inaudible way at the same time (Beacons can't). My app requires microphone listening that can be also used for any emergency with speech recognition. In the case of beacons, having BLE and a mic opened on your phone will drain your battery way faster.
2. I have a partnership (if necessary) with the largest speaker manufacturer in the world
3. The product is free for the end user
4. Visually impaired communities are connected to each other (schools, organizations, meetup, etc)
5. The city would buy new speakers and pay for regular maintenance. Free for the end user unless that user wants a specific speaker on a determined location.

Henry Dobson 7 months ago

Hi Carlos,
This is a fantastic idea and one that could significantly improve the health and safety of the visually impaired. You write that the product consists of a "small solar-powered speaker and a complementary app". Why is the speaker solar-powered? Can it not be battery-powered? There are obvious issues with solar-powered devices, so I'm not sure why the product is designed in this way. Can you please expand on the design of the product, and why it's solar-powered?
Also, if data sources such as Google Maps are not accurate enough, how do you intend of sourcing more precise data? Is the product using the GPS in the phone, or some other data source? It's not clear where you are sourcing the real-time information from. Can you expand on this too, please?

Users tagged:

Carlos Mosquera 7 months ago

The solar-powered panel will keep a battery charged. This was the speakers will be fully independent, it's not viable to use battery-only devices as it's not efficient keeping track of power for every speaker. Location data will be provided by the app. If my app listens 3 impulses at 19kHz, this one will display information assigned to those impulses. I hope this makes sense.

Achia Khaleda 7 months ago

It's brilliant idea for visually impaired. In 2009 I have developed an unicode for braille printer. Technology is changing everyday and your idea is perfect fit for now. wish you all the best.

Kazi Jawoad Hossain 7 months ago

The idea is pretty amazing. I'd request you to explain more on business case, revenue management etc.
Good Luck

Carlos Mosquera 7 months ago

Custom speakers will be sold to the city or private clients. The app is complementary. I believe this is more an aid than a business. I don't want the visual impaired to pay for something that should be already provided by your government.

Victoria Masso 7 months ago

Status label added: Mentor feedback received

Ricardo Martinezgarza 7 months ago

Dear Carlos,

Great project, help to the impaired, in this case the visually impaired, is paramount to make society more inclusive.

Your presentation I think would benefit from a more descriptive description of how your solution works tecnichally (in simple terms) and of the user interface and the interaction of the user with it.

Wish you the best of luck

Ivana Kostic 7 months ago

Hi Carlos, great initiative with a great cause! Please consider other international solutions and state how do you compare with them. It would be great to know how the customers are reacting to your solution and if you have tested with them and potentially adjusted to their real need? Thanks, Ivana

JOSEPH MUNJI 7 months ago

So the sound sources will act as beacons? I like your idea very much. Kudos

Carlos Mosquera 7 months ago

Technically yes.

DJ Koeman 7 months ago

Nice one! This throws me back to my days in the Caribbean and South America, working with Digicel. We introduced device/app that was text-to-speech (TTS) for the visually impaired. Great initiative to 'leave nobody behind'

Calister Simba 6 months ago

Hi Carlos, Great project and you have earned my votes just for thinking about how to include people with disability, You have a promising project so I hope you will further, keep moving forward!!

Users tagged:

Nivashini Rave Rattey 6 months ago

Status label added: Community feedback received

Nivashini Rave Rattey 6 months ago

The idea has been progressed to the next milestone.

Muyunda Kaonga 6 months ago

Hi Carlos, great idea. What are some of the risk factors you have identified of using your product and how best will you solve them?

Victoria Masso 6 months ago

Status label added: Expert feedback received

Nivashini Rave Rattey 6 months ago

Status label removed: Expert feedback received

Victoria Masso 6 months ago

Status label added: Expert feedback received

Samuel Mugabi 6 months ago

Amazing project. Wish you the Best.

Nivashini Rave Rattey 6 months ago

Status label added: Submission completed

Victoria Masso 6 months ago

First of all Carlos, Congratulations on your outstanding project. It is incredible that you already went to the end user to understand the issues they encounter that are overlooked by many. This preliminary research is key for developing any product and solving a real problem.

I am happy you have addressed the comments from the mentors and the community in the final submission. This is very important.
On the other hand, I understand you want to crate partnerships with private sector and governments for financing and regulations. This is great thinking of how an ecosystem should work. I think the only thing I can point out is that it probably needs more description on this part of the business model. But congratulations and can not wait to read your final application.
Well done and good luck!:)

Nivashini Rave Rattey 5 months ago

Status label added: Idea under jury review

Nivashini Rave Rattey 5 months ago

The idea has been progressed to the next milestone.

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