Skip to main content

Navigator and global interface applications for visually impaired people using Galileo satellite technologies

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - VOICEGALILEO (Navigator and global interface applications for visually impaired people using Galileo satellitetechnologies)

Reporting period: 2015-07-01 to 2015-12-31

The objective of VOICEGALILEO is to create a new set of solutions (a stand-alone, portable and user-friendly device and 2 apps) for Visually Impaired People (VIPs) as well as other disabled people and the elderly people that will enable them to find their ways in urban areas with a precision of 1 meter, when Galileo will be fully operational.
In order to achieve its final objective, VOICEGALILEO will:
- exploit satellite navigation technologies and integrate them with other technologies where the satellite is not available (it combats the “canyon effect” – tall buildings blocking satellite outdoor, as well as the lack of satellite signals indoor or underground);
- interact with information generated by a number of data providers so that VIPs will be able to find their way in urban areas (including support while they move from one point to the other), but also browse valuable information related to public transportation, cultural sites, special events, restaurants, shops, etc.
Objectives of the feasibility study promoted under Phase 1 of the SME Instrument included the elaboration of a specific business plan, the individuation of suitable partners among European SMEs, the definition of Intellectual Property management issues as well as the development of the innovation strategy.
The most important finding of Phase 1 was the definition of the Business Plan associated to the project, which will allow Voice Systems to increase its turnover by 4.267.251€ within 3 years from start of commercialization with an internal rate of return of 12,1%, and that is in full line with the innovation strategy that Voice Systems plans for the coming years, focused more and more on the research and development of new products in navigation aids initially for the visually impaired and subsequently for other niche groups. Besides, it was agreed to collaborate with three different entities (two companies and a not for profit organization) that will work together with Voice Systems in the definition of user requirements, the testing of the software and apps and the market uptake of the products that will be finalized in Phase 2 of the SME Instrument. The IPR study and analysis conducted confirmed on the one hand the freedom to operate and on the other the possibility to protect the products that will be marketed at end of Phase2 and that derive from the ownership by Voice Systems of the VoiceGPS patent.
Commuting in a crowded environment for people with visual impairment is a very difficult task. Even for the fully-sighted person, navigating in an unknown environment requires some form of directional clues or maps to reach his/her destination. The VIP is at a disadvantage, as he/she does not have access to contextual information and spatial orientation of immediate proximity. VOICEGALILEO will exploit the full potential of EGNOS and Galileo, so that VIP can be guided with high precision when moving in urban areas. Besides, it will be able to guide VIP when satellite signal is not available, as in indoor and underground areas or in urban canyons, and at the same time have integrated information linked to the areas they are going through.
Although VOICEGALILEO seems similar to other solutions developed in the past for visually impaired people (many of which funded through FP7, or by the European Space Agency) it develops something completely new, as its starting points are already well known and used products (either a portable magnifier, or a user friendly app mounted on a mobile phone) and improves its features so that it can also become a navigation tool for VIP. None of the solutions individuated so far has had any significant impact on the lives of VIP, who continue relying on traditional forms of assistance, namely a guide (either a person or a dog) or a white cane.