Volume 5 Issue 5 - March 01, 2007

Cellphones to aid visually impaired people

D.N.I.S. News Network – In a pathbreaking initiative, cellphone-based technology designed to help visually impaired persons find their way in a particular location, is being developed by the International Institute of Information Technology–Bangalore (I.I.I.T.-B.), and Chennai based companies, Lattice Bridge Info and Spatial Data (Spinfo).

This is how the technology works. If a person calls a designated number and asks, “Where am I?” and disconnects, he gets a call back with an automated voice saying, “You are at 2nd Cross, 3rd Block Mayur Vihar.”

If the user has a G.P.S.-enabled phone with Bluetooth capability, the software can ascertain the caller’s location precisely. Otherwise, it will use the nearest cellular towers to determine the location.

While I.I.I.T.-B. is developing the server application, LatticeBridge is designing the voice engine (which converts text to speech), and Spinfo will provide the geographical content. The group is holding discussions with various service providers. Initially the project will be tested in Bangalore or Chennai and then extended to other cities. The pilot phase will begin in six months. Professor S. Rajagopalan of I.I.I.T.-B. said that Spinfo already has about 8,000 key points of Bangalore marked on its geographic database. It is expected to double to 16,000 points soon.

Though the entire application will be a joint Intellectual Property of I.I.T.-B., Lattice Bridge and Spinfo, all rights will be assigned to I.I.T.-B. to enable the institute to license the application to others at a nominal cost.

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