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Brief Published: 28 Feb 2013

Smart Braille: Maps for the Blind


A group of designers have developed a concept for a braille-like navigation device to help the visually impaired navigate unfamiliar routes in cities.

Blind Maps is a navigation device that syncs to a user’s iPhone, providing tangible feedback on the route through a braille-like interface. The designers – Markus Schmeiduch, Andrew Spitz and Ruben van der Vleuten – created the device during a 36-hour project at the Copenhagen Institute of Interactive Design in Copenhagen.

The designers chose a tactile interface because headset-based voice-guided systems can be dangerous, preventing the user from reacting to signals from the surrounding environment.

Once the user has selected a destination via the iPhone’s Siri function, Blind Maps guides them across the city, with moving pins indicating the unfolding path. The route information is all open-sourced, allowing the device to adapt and evolve as a city develops and better routes emerge.

“Using the GPS and accelerometers on the phone, one could tell how the user is walking and the service could rate the route accordingly,” Spitz told US online news site Fast Co.Design. “The more people use a given route, the more accurate the ecosystem becomes.” Watch the video below to find out more.

To discover more about the potential of touch in product design, take a look at Disney’s texture-sensing device and The Importance of Touch.

Ruben van der Vleuten

Andrew Spitz

Markus Schmeiduch