Beacon-based wayfinding for people with disabilities

Event Date

Wednesday, February 19th, 2020 – 12:00pm to 1:00pm


Ali Cheraghi


Abstract - There are currently few options for navigational aids for people with disabilities, especially those who are blind, and visually impaired (BVI) in indoor spaces and around buildings. Indoor environments can be geographically large and intimidating such as grocery stores, airports, sports stadiums, large office buildings, and hotels. Thus, reading and following signs still remain the most common mechanism for providing and receiving wayfinding information in such spaces. These indoor spaces can be difficult to navigate even for those without disabilities if they are disoriented due to unfamiliarity or other reasons. This study presents a wayfinding system called GuideBeacon that can be used by BVI individuals to navigate their surroundings beyond what is possible with just a GPS based system. The GuideBeacon system allows users equipped with smartphones to interact with Bluetooth-based beacons deployed strategically within the indoor space of interest to navigate their surroundings. A major challenge in deploying such beacon-based navigation systems is the need to employ a time and labor-expensive beacon planning process, to identify potential beacon placement locations and arrive at a topological structure representing the indoor space. Thus, this work presents a technique called IBeaconMap for creating such topological structures to use with beacon-based navigation. Using GuideBeacon as the underlying layer, this study additionally proposes an inclusive emergency evacuation system called SafeExit4All that empowers people with disabilities (in addition to the general population) to independently find a safe exit under emergency scenarios. Finally, this work describes an indoor-outdoor navigation system called CityGuide which leverages the GuideBeacon in conjunction with GPS signals to enable a BVI individual to query and get turn-by-turn shortest route directions from an indoor location to their desired destination outdoor.


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