2003 Conference Proceedings

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Lyne Rochefort
VisuAide Inc.

VisuAide is the leading innovation firm in providing high-tech solutions for the blind and visually impaired. VisuAide is the world leader in digital audio book solutions for the print disabled. It develops and manufactures the Victor Reader line of hardware and software audio players. VisuAide is also the leader in the adaptation of software products for French-speaking countries and is the largest distributor of computer aids for the visually disabled in Canada.

VisuAide has designed the next generation of GPS-based orientation and mobility product for the blind and visually impaired The Victor Trekker.

During the development of this new and exciting product, VisuAide conducted several focus groups with blind users. By doing this, we have been able to improve our user interface. Trails were conducted in city environments to achieve the optimum performance and reliability. The presentation will discuss the result of these observations and how it influenced our product design.

The Victor Trekker is a fully portable GPS solution that works with various computing platforms such as Braille note-takers, stand-alone computing platforms and on personal digital assistant (PDA) devices. It integrates off-the-shelf hardware for GPS input, voice output that provide instructions, and optional voice input for entering notes.

The objective of Victor Trekker is to guide the visually impaired in their 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 allows information to flow to the user in the most natural way possible while offering several levels of details. The system comes with a wide variety of maps that 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 Trekker is a fully scalable solution that will grow to accommodate new hardware computing platforms, more detailed geocentric information and special applications such as trekking.

The Victor Trekker provides information that flows naturally to the user, tracking the proximity of points of interest such as restaurants, malls etc. Users can also personalize the points of interest such as the directions on how to go to a friend's location. These personalized points of interest can be stored in the GPS in an audio format or they can be entered by using a keyboard. Once the information is stored your can retrieve it at any time. Other features include geocentric database search functions, path finding and flexibility in allowing the user to follow a given itinerary.

Victor Trekker 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 Trekker are:

VisuAide will be please to share with you all the feedback and results provided by users as of January 2003.

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