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Cell phone

Application for cell phone helps the visually impaired

Daniel BuenoAn application for cell phones to facilitate the integration of the visually impaired into the urban environment was developed by Renata Claro, Gabriel Reganati and Thiago Silva. They are enrolled in the last year of the computer science course at the Institute of Mathematics and Statistics/IME of the University of São Paulo (USP) and developed the application under the coordination of professor Marco Aurélio Gerosa. The mobile application, called Smart Audio City Guide, is still at the experimental stage. It is a social network-based system that uses GPS and geo-referenced information (recorded by another software user). “The application is not restricted to the visually impaired,” says professor Artur Rozestraten, from the College of Architecture and Urban Planning (FAU), who took part in the project’s development. The program placed third in the Imagine Cup, a worldwide innovation-related competition sponsored by Microsoft. Any person with the application can send and receive audio-transmitted information on urban sites. The messages provide information such as the existence of trees, stairways, or flower stalls. The recording is made by touching the screen. When a user walks past the place from where a message was recorded, he gets a voice message. The evaluation of what information is useful is left to the discretion of the users. “The idea is that the application will complement other resources for the visually impaired, such as canes, guide dogs, and appropriate flooring,” says Rozestraten (Agência USP, June 5).