A Positioning and Mapping Methodology Using Bluetooth and Smartphone Technologies to Support Situation Awareness and Wayfinding for the Visually Impaired

Principal Investigator:

  • Chen-Fu Liao, Senior Systems Engineer, Civil, Environmental and Geo-Engineering

Project Summary:

Researchers, building upon their previous effort in developing a mobile accessible pedestrian system to support wayfinding and navigation for people who are blind or visually impaired, have developed a “condition aware” infrastructure—a system that can self-monitor and make sure that the information is up-to-date at the right location. The purpose of self-monitoring infrastructure is to ensure that information provided to the visually impaired through a smartphone app is valid and robust. A standalone Bluetooth low-energy (BLE) device, called a BLE-master, was developed using commercial, off-the-shelf BLE modules to operate in dual mode (master/slave). The researchers plan to implement the system at a test site and evaluate its performance for accuracy and reliability based on the information provided to users. They plan to collect the performance data via a smartphone interface to a cloud-based server. This project also includes investigating a sustainable power source for the BLE devices, such as a miniature solar panel, and installing BLE devices within the infrastructure (for example, at intersections, light-rail platforms, or work zones) to demonstrate the system capabilities and to evaluate its performance.

Project Details:

  • Start date: 07/2014
  • Project Status: Active
  • Research Area: Transportation Safety and Traffic Flow

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