The rise of accessibility

Accessibility and indoor positioning systems (IPS)

Great potential, but the focus is missing

Since the introduction of the smartphone, we’ve seen a rapid increase in functionality and use cases for our pocketable digital assistants. Personal digital assistants like Alexa, Siri, Google and Cortana, to mention some of the more notable ones, have been introduced and gradually evolved into some truly stunning examples of AI.

Remember how they showcased Google assistant booking an appointment at the hair salon at the Google I/O summit in 2018?

This show of AI capability, albeit in a controlled environment and still under development, is impressive and seems straight out of a sci-fi movie.

However, during such presentations one user base is often forgotten: people with disabilities, ranging from mental to physical. We are only scratching the surface of the potential that assistive technology has to offer these users. The capabilities are present, but the focus is missing. 

Automations can simplify your life; Create shortcuts or scripts to perform actions. Allow your phone to improve your workflow and increase effectiveness. Get real time feedback to help complete a goal. Turn by turn directions can guide you from your current position to your destination. Receive audible queues or tactile feedback as you’re chaperoned along your journey. You might have tried this outdoors while driving, cycling or walking. The effectiveness is mind-blowing when you stop to think about the incredible capabilities of technology. Especially GPS, which we’re all so familiar with.

GPS, however, is not readily available indoors. It is unreliable, inaccurate and thus limiting. Yet using technology to advance accessibility is at our doorstep. Indoor positioning systems (IPS) combined with assistive technology, can help people in a multitude of life situations that could benefit from a helping hand. 

Put available technology to use

Leveraging Forkbeard’s technology you can achieve centimetre accuracy indoors. Integrate it with our ready to use SDK into your app or system solution, and imagine the following use cases to make your indoor space more accessible:

  1. A visually impaired person navigating indoors by him- or herself. With an IPS system you can use an application to provide way finding. A screen reader could provide all available destinations and prompt a user when they are at a location that provides way finding.
  2. Someone bound to a wheelchair in a large complex can get directions that facilitate wheelchair access.
  3. A person with impaired mobility can use IPS to authenticate and grant access to areas requiring key-pad interaction. Even replacing the need to physically open doors. Instead automatically opening doors based on proximity.
  4. For assisted living one can use the system to set conditions that trigger actions accordingly. A person hasn’t moved for X amount of time between the hours Y and Z. Initiate cursory contact via phone and follow-up to prompt an in-person welfare check at residence. Monitoring someone with dementia or Alzheimers where a potential trigger would be a patient leaving their residence and not returning within X amount of time and prompting phone call followed up with elevated recovery action.

With an ever brightening spotlight on privacy and accessibility, as well as the sensitivity of healthcare related data, choosing an IPS that fits your use case is paramount. If you want to read about considerations surrounding IPS solutions and how to make an informed decision around Privacy, here is an article that discusses the topic in more depth.

As the online digital world embraces Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) , it’s time we embrace it’s counterpart and bring accessibility to the physical world.

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