Discover-ABLE (AR App for assisting people with disabilities to discover and navigate better throughout the city)

Photo of Team Quad Hack members from left to right: Aaron, Jaya, Ronan and Louise
Team Name: 
Quad Hack

We believe that diversity and inclusion within any community adds strength; aiming to make sure that our quaken city of Christchurch is an accessible city for all, Discover-ABLE taps into that belief.

It is our sincere hope that we can use technology to bring awareness to the needs and difficulties of people with disabilities especially in the context of local government departments and local data-sets.

As a wayfinder augmented reality application facilitating navigation, surprise and discovery, Discover-ABLE empowers people of all physical abilities with confidence so that even when their physical surrounds and landscapes are changing, they can get out and spontaneously explore their surroundings at will.

Our aim in this initial iteration is deliver a prototype showing how Discover-ABLE can reconnect people with disabilities, specifically blind people, to the built environment and green city spaces.

As part of the design process we interviewed a person who is completely blind and a member of our team llives with a moderate degree of physical disability.

Very often vision impaired people only undertake journeys that take them on a well-travelled, predictable route from A to B to perform a particular task. This is challenging in normal, everyday circumstances; post-disaster - when a city is destroyed and in a state of constant transition, without help, it can be almost insurmountable and leaves no room to safely deviate from standard, everyday habits.

Using augmented reality and drawing on the data sets listed, DiscoverABLE give users customised information to make travelling around easy and safe, and tells them about facilities they can visit and event/activities they can attend. It gives them the freedom to participate and engage in their surroundings and community activities and enjoy unexpected interactions.

Visually Impaired users provide a unique opportunity to investigate new approaches to augmented reality. In our case we opted to focus of verbal (machine generated) communication. We call this augmented reality as we recognise that it is important not to overly dominate the users listening capabilities as this is essential to safe travel in many cases.

For technology we used a full-stack HTML5/JS framework called Meteor that providesr reactive data stores. This provides for interactive data presentation with real time updating. Geolocation and navigation APIs are provided by Google maps. Facilities data is provided by the Christchurch City Council and ECAN. Text-to-speech is provided as built in HTML5 functionality available in Chrome, Chrome for Android and iOS.

The features that we managed to get finished in the initial prototype are:

  • geolocation of the users current position.
  • computer verbilastion of location
  • Import, store and conversion of public restroom data including accessibility info.

We thought this was a particulary interesting data-set to include because it contains a lot of detail that we haven't seen used anywhere else. The restroom dataset include coordinates for different corners of the facilities as well as entrance orientation. We recognise that simply getting a user within the vicinity of the rest-room is not enough as the user still has to find the entrane and determine whether it is the correctly gendered entrance.

Future features that we would forsee as useful in order to unlock the full utility of the available data will include:

  • Haptic feedback around hazards and social navigation info (divergence from most common paths).
  • Audiotory Feedback of spatial and object information.
  • Social feedback and community knowledge
  • AI and machine learning for anticipatory customisation of user daily needs
  • Accellerometer and visual analysis for improved accuracy and calibration
  • voice command to streamline the user experience ("take me home")
  • Compatible with wearable devices
  • Objecct detection and recognition for hazard detection
  • Integration with QR codes or similar so that council workers can provide functional indicators that can be used to indicate modifications to footpaths,bus-stops or similar

Google folder link that contains all of working files including graphic design, video files etc.

https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B5LB91AnNGSLUGhJTlR3N0FfUEE&usp=sharing

Region: 
Used Datasets: 
Dataset Name: 
Best Transport Data Hack
Publishing Organisation/Agency: 
Christchurch City Council
Jurisdiction of Data: 
Local Government
How did you use this data in your entry?: 
Utilised the API to identify roadworks locations in real time to enable the app to alert the user to obstructions to way finding/navigation on foot as well as what bus stops maybe closed/inaccessible.
Dataset Name: 
BusStop
Publishing Organisation/Agency: 
Christchurch City Council
Jurisdiction of Data: 
Local Government
How did you use this data in your entry?: 
Used the data to provide the user with location information and identity for bus stops
Dataset Name: 
Toilet
Publishing Organisation/Agency: 
Christchurch City Council
Jurisdiction of Data: 
Local Government
How did you use this data in your entry?: 
Used this data to provide user with locations and descriptions of public toilets including those which are accessible for people with disabilities
Dataset Name: 
Footpath
Publishing Organisation/Agency: 
Christchurch City Council
Jurisdiction of Data: 
Local Government
How did you use this data in your entry?: 
Used this data to provides additional information to the user for navigation, particularly at intersections
Dataset Name: 
Artwork
Publishing Organisation/Agency: 
Christchurch City Council
Jurisdiction of Data: 
Local Government
How did you use this data in your entry?: 
Used this data to provides location and identity of public artworks in the Christchurch area to enable the user to navigate to items of interest and provide more information as it is obtainable.
Event Location: 
Christchurch