2002 Conference Proceedings

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VISUAIDE - GPS Solution: Victor Escort

Yvan Lagace
VisuAide Inc.
1030, Rene-Levesque Boulevard
Drummondville, Quebec, Canada, J2C 5W4
Phone : (819) 471-4818
Fax : (819) 471-4828
email : sylviem@visuaide.com

VisuAide is presently designing the next generation of GPS-based orientation and mobility product for the visually impaired: Victor Escort.

The Victor Escort will be a fully portable solution that will work with various computing platforms such as Braille note-takers, stand-alone computing platforms and eventually on personal digital assistant (PDA) devices. It will integrate off-the-shelf hardware for GPS input, voice output to provide instructions and optional voice input for entering notes. However, the real advantages of Victor Escort will reside in its software features and full adaptation to meet the requirements of the visually impaired.

VisuAide will leverage its expertise in GPS-based system resulting from the successful development of the CityGo, a GPS guide for tourists, which will be commercially available in early 2002. The software core will be re-used and modified to support multi-platform hardware as well as augmented for build-in accessibility.

Victor Escort will benefit from the CityGo expertise in the following areas:
* having the information flow naturally to the user
* tracking the proximity of point of interest and provide vocal information about them and on how to reach them
* mix of voice and text contents, geocentric database search functions
* path finding and flexibility in allowing the user to follow loosely a given itinerary

The objective of the Victor Escort project is to guide the visually impaired in its environment. VisuAide wants to augment the existing aids (white cane and seeing dogs), not replace them. We want a design that is non-obtrusive and allow information to flow to the user in the most natural way possible while offering several levels of details. The system will come with a wide variety of maps that will cover most of the countries in the western world. These maps can be purchased on-line and downloaded, or ordered and delivered on CD or Flash cards, a city or a region at a time. Victor Escort is a fully scalable solution that will grow to accommodate new hardware computing platforms, more detailed geocentric information and special applications such as trekking.

Victor Escort will provide more autonomy to the visually impaired and increase their confidence in their ability to travel in their locality or further away for business and leisure. It will also increase their accessibility and enjoyment of the most useful and interesting opportunities found in their environment.

The main features of Victor Escort will be:
* voice information control features
* user-defined location marks
* route planning and recording
* access to GPS status information
* flexibility in information presentation and guidance to allocate for various level of users (beginner, normal, advanced) and familiarity with a given environment

VisuAide expects the first version of Victor Escort to be available in Q2 2002 starting on Braille note-takers followed in 2003 with other version running on standalone computing platforms.

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