CORDIS - EU research results

3D Sound Navigator Assistant for Visually Impaired People

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - NAV4VIP (3D Sound Navigator Assistant for Visually Impaired People)

Reporting period: 2015-06-01 to 2015-11-30

There are 285 million visually impaired people worldwide: 39 millions are blind and 246 have low level vision. 22 million of them live in OECD countries, and most of them are living in urban areas and wishing to be autonomous in their physical movements. The implementation of specific measurements to enable visually impaired people to move autonomously and safely in urban areas looks for a real impact in two main issues: inclusion and mobility.

On the other hand, adventure tourism, sports and recreational activities in the outdoors and natural areas have become a huge market worth 263 billion USD annually. In the case of mountain and rural areas, those activities mean sustainability for non-metro communities. The development of new technological tools may probably be the only way to make natural areas accessible to visual impaired people, providing a more independent living and a better quality of life.
Several solutions have been proposed in the recent years to give response to these challenges increasing the autonomy, mobility and safety of visually impaired people. Many technical developments and research projects have already implemented autonomous mobility solutions for visual impaired people. Most of these technologies have limitations as its challenge involves accuracy, usability, interoperability, safety and coverage. So far enhanced navigation systems have not achieved large scale exploitation.

For visual impaired people, the travel activity depends on the availability of external support or the availability of accurate and safe orientation and navigation tools. There is a need for a system which would enhance the mobility and independence of blind and partially sighted people. The development of a marketable solution that improves the state-of-the-art technology might potentially reach a market of 1.9% of the global population.

NAV4VIP is an efficient and trustworthy solution that provides track perception and safety guidance for people with visual impairment addressing their specific needs and allowing their autonomous and safe movement in unknown scenarios improving their autonomy and quality of life.

NAV4VIP is the first device that integrates Galileo-based navigation and 3D acoustic reality to improve autonomy and safety of visual impairment people. It implements a new and innovative eyes/hands/mind-free 3D Sound Navigator Assistant providing a personal guidance system that allows autonomous and safety movement along predefined paths. The instrument provides route perception based on the combination and deep integration of accurate GNSS positioning, including high-precession Galileo signals, and 3D Augmented Acoustic Reality based on binaural technology sounds audio.

The NAV4VIP project in the SME Instrument Phase 1 program has been focused in the development of the feasibility study, verifying the technical, financial and market viability of the NAV4VIP solution, and demonstrating considerable novelty to the target industrial market.
The main activities accomplished during the project have been focused on the feasibility assessment of the proposed 3D Sound Navigator Assistant for Visually Impaired People, including a detailed analysis of user requirements and representative scenarios for product validation and acceptance; industrialization and commercialisation costs; and assessment of product business potential and economic viability.

The plan has been intended as a guide to transform the knowledge and technologies generated during the previous research project in a real market opportunity addressing EU wide and global challenges (considering that the system has already been implemented at a prototype level). With the purpose of validating the solution in a real environment, it was decided to follow a user-centric approach, involving end-user associations and foundations representing or working closely to the visually impaired people community. For that, Stakeholders and representative members from public and private bodies and entities has been contacted and involved in the project for getting the most valuables contributions.

The final results of the activities performed have been included and described in detail in the NAV4VIP Business Plan document including the following sections:

• Economic and financial model viability. The implementation of the business plan has included the financial plan focused on the analysis of the viability, stability, and the profitability of the project. The Financial Viability has been structure towards optimization and for providing comprehensive financial information. The main activities performed are the analysis of the non-economic constraints related with safety and technology regulations, and the definition of the financial plan, encompassing the cost structure definition and analysis, sales revenues, gross profit evaluation, as well as the return of investment forecast.

• Business model viability. The exhaustive market analysis performed has considered both the market targeted by NAV4VIP as well as the competitors. What each competitor offers was identified and described, allowing identifying an unfilled gap where NAV4VIP may focus on. Considering the real and great necessity of the visual impaired people community in getting reliable and accurate guidance systems for improving their mobility and autonomy in unknown scenarios and the interest from public authorities and companies in providing accessibility to different areas and activities, the specific target market segment segments and the specific value proposition for each of those has been identified. The activities performed have also allowed knowing and understanding the main key partners which could be necessary to develop and support the commercialization of the NAV4VIP solution.

• The management model viability has also been considered, identifying the work breakdown structure fo the project and the commercialization roadmap. A preliminary analysis of risks and the mitigation actions have also be done.

Beyond the activities that have had a specific impact in the materialization of the business plan, the company has performed other activities that have contributed to enhance the company positioning and reputation, allowing also identifying and strength relationships with relevant entities.
The value proposition of the NAV4VIP solution stated the improvement of visual impaired people mobility and autonomy in unknown scenarios through the use of a new guidance assistant tool based on the integration of an innovative smartphone app using 3D sounds, and an enhanced GNSS positioning.

The activities implemented during the SME Instrument Phase 1, allow us to confirm the impact and market potential of the proposed solution, based on the next key factors:

• There is a real and common necessity of the visually impaired community for getting technological solutions for autonomous and personal navigation in unknown scenarios.

• There is a gap between user needs and current available solutions which do not provide the required accuracy and integrity (safety and confidence).

• Advanced GNSS performances rely on expensive technical solutions, but the GNSS state of the art may provide cost effective solutions fulfilling user requirements in terms of accuracy and integrity.

• The 3D sound navigation solution provides a powerful and well and wide accepted user interface that is not been used in any product so far.

• Demonstrations and marketing activities will have a high impact in social media and in the dissemination of the solution among stakeholders.

• There is a huge market potential even considering a low impact of marketing and internationalization activities. Niche sectors like accessible tourism or sports provide differentiation and high market expectations.

• The business model supports product and services commercialization reaching not only end users (B2C model) for product selling but companies and public authorities (B2B model) for the implementation of the solution in local areas.

The NAV4VIP solution means a real opportunity to reach and improve the quality of life of a 427.000 visual impaired people in Europe, and 824.000 all over the word. The turnover of the company will increase during the first year of NAV4VIP commercialization, keeping a steady growth during next years due to fully exploitation of the product, and allowing increasing the company staff.
NAV4VIP Concept
NAV4VIP Positioning