Thursday, April 13, 2006.
In March the Research and Development Center (a common project with the involvement of Vodafone, Ericsson a ÈVUT) successfully completed the development of the first GPS navigational system for the blind in the Czech republic. The system allows for the immediate localization and navigation of the blind to a target area as well as combining the GPS and GMS technologies with the localization call center and mapping foundations. Successful testing has confirmed the potential of fully utilizing the system practically.
"The navigational system for the blind utilizes the features of telecommunication technology in helping handicapped people; this is the key topic of Vodafone's social responsibilities throughout the world," claims Grahame Maher, the general manager of Vodafone Czech Republic and continues: "Supporting scientific research and its utilization in a general beneficial project are the goals the Research and Development co-founders had set five years ago."
The navigational system is one of the projects of the Research and Development Center (RDC) that is funded by a Vodafone grant. A problem-solving team of students from the Czech Technical Faculty collaborated with Czech Blind United (SONS) on the development of the system; SONS representatives edited the application and took part in its testing in the field as well as planning the implementation of the system into practice.
The navigational system works with GPS by way of a transmitter that is worn by the blind, thereby identifying his location; this is sent off to the call center's server. If a visibly impaired person loses orientation, he can contact the call center, who then identifies his location on the map and helps him get to where he wants to. The visibly impaired person can also utilize the system as a navigational guide when traveling to places outside of his usual "radius of activity" (travel to other cities).
Maximal system compatibility and potential for visually impaired users was achieved by testing the most appropriate combination of standard GPS receivers and GSM/CSD/GPRS modems with further amendments of hardware and software of selected units. The precision of the localization is ±2.5 meters and has a success rate of 98 %.
SONS with the support of RDC, Vodafone and Ericsson will launch the system into operation allowing for its accession by the visibly impaired. There are presently about 10 000 potential visually impaired users of this navigational system.
End of article.
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