Tuesday, February 25, 2014

App for the Blind Wins Best Mobile Health Product

Apps undoubtedly can make our lives easier. In an effort to make navigation easier for the blind community, Finnish developer MIPSoft created BlindSquare.

Blindsquare uses Foursquare to navigate users to
popular places in their area.
Photo via Flickr/teamstickergiant
The app combines the location-based data from Foursquare and Open Street Map with voice technology to create an auditory map. This tool for the blind or visually impaired came out on top of the “Best Mobile Health Product or Service” category at the Global Mobile Awards at this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Judges’ comments noted the app as “an assistive technology that combines consumer mobile technologies to address a societal problem,” according to the Global Mobile Awards website.

Although BlindSquare is a hybrid of various services, its functionality is remarkably simple.

First, you shake your device. 

Your location is read to you, followed by nearby intersections and points of interest.

This is where Foursquare’s over 45 million users come in handy. Based on the individual's presets, the app can recommend nearby places for the user to visit. 

Looking to grab a cup of coffee? It can tell you where to get the best cup of joe nearby and how to get there. 

The app not only can be used as a navigation tool, but also for fun. With another shake, users can check-in at their location and share it on their Facebook or Twitter feed.

"Blind people love Foursquare, too," said BlindSquare developer Ilkka Pirttimaa in a Mashable article. "It's simple. Just shake the device and you hear where you are [at] an address, or nearest crossing. If you are at some Foursquare place, you can re-shake to check in."

But if you just want to head back to where you started and avoid the recommendations,  filters can be used to keep the information as basic as possible. 

“BlindSquare possesses filters you can set, so you only hear the information you currently need,” as explained on the app’s website.

Riding the bus, walking to lunch, or taking a stroll in the park now can be a little simpler for the tech-savvy user.


The app is compatible with the iPad and iPhone and is available for $23.99 in the iTunes App Store.

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