We love to read stories of mobile technology helping solve some real-world problem. So we were glad to learn that Fujitsu is working with Japan’s National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT) on an indoor support system for the blind. The system relies on ultra wide band (UWB) technology and a smartphone to provide real-time positioning data and audio instructions on the distance and direction to a destination to the job. The problem is that GPS cannot be reliably used indoors, hence the need to use other standards, namely UWB, to accomplish the task.
The system is configured with several base stations positioned in an indoor area as part of the infrastructure, several mobile stations (one for the user and others for destinations) and a PC that controls the entire system. The base stations first measure the distance between each of the mobile stations and the base stations with a margin of ranging error of less than 30 centimeters, while the control PC calculates and gives the positioning data based on the ranging results in real time. The obtained position data is then sent to the user’s mobile station and then via Bluetooth to a smartphone. The user is guided to the destination by audio instructions on direction and distance.
And that’s just a start with NICT and Fujitsu planning to make further advancements to push forward the technology for assisting the blind by building a system with additional sensors that can detect obstacles on the road. Pretty cool!