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Navigation App for the Visually Impaired

To help visually impaired individuals travel from place to place, especially in unfamiliar grounds, a team of Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP) lecturers and students have developed a smartphone application which allows users to choose between sheltered or the shortest path, and help navigate the way to their destination.

The app, aptly named as Travel Assistant for the Visually Impaired (TAVI), is believed to be the first of its kind in mapping specific locations within an app.

It features large fonts for the partially visually impaired, and audio feedback for those who have lost their sight completely. TAVI also gives directions such as where to turn after walking certain distances.

The app is still in testing phase, but developers hope to have it ready for use in the next two months. They also hope to eventually upload it on iTunes, customised with more locations.

Developers said that they are in discussion with Singapore's bus operators to customise transport features into the app, to allow the visually impaired commuters to know how far away their bus is. When on board the bus, TAVI will also tell them when they are approaching their desired bus stop. There are also plans to include other features — such as  a directory for certain buildings — in the next two years.

The app was inspired after a visit to Dialogue in the Dark by the student developers from NP’s School of InfoComm Technology. Dialogue in the Dark is a social enterprise based at NP that aims to create awareness of the challenges faced by the visually impaired.

The TAVI app project will receive financing of up to $116,000, co-funded by Ngee Ann Polytechnic and Tote Board through Tote Board’s Social Innovation Research (SIR) Fund, which provides seed funding for the polytechnics and the Institute of Technical Education to develop and implement  projects benefiting the social service sector and/or improving the social environment.