2004 Conference Proceedings

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SYSTEM DESIGN AND PRELIMINARY EXPERIMENTS ON SUPPORTING SENIOR CITIZENS AND PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES USING A CELLULAR PHONE WITH GPS AND A BROWSER

Presenters
Takeshi Hoshino
Hitachi, Ltd.
1-280 Higashi-Koigakubo
Kokubunji, Tokyo, Japan
Email: hositake@design.hitachi.co.jp

Naoki Sakakibara
UDIT, Inc.
3-67 Sakura-dai aoba-ku
Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan
Email: sakaki@udit-jp.com

1. Introduction

The prototype system we are presenting in this paper is for senior citizens and people with disabilities. When they have problems in some facilities and environments in daily life, they can send photographs or information of them and share with other people by cellular phones with cameras that can be carried. The purpose of the system is to send and share all kinds of information of problems, easily, in real time. These problems can be as small as a gap in a sidewalk or as dynamic as a construction detour.

Conventional geographic information systems(GIS) integrates such local information into the central server and utilizes it for city improvement planning. Some information can be seen on the Internet under maps. As we mentioned, however, conventional GIS is not enough to give appropriate advice or the most valuable information to the people where problems arise in their local communities.

In this paper, we are explaining about the field research and the prototype system by which every one can simply send photographs or information without carrying any special apparatus and easily assure the information concerning themselves or their location at any given time.

2. Concept and purpose of Kokomemo(Here-memo)

We decided to use a cellular phone currently on the market in Japan as a terminal equipment because we don't need special apparatus. However, it has to have functions to send and receive e-mails, photography and GPS.(In Japan we can buy and use the cellular phone with these functions as the same price range as other normal ones.)

We built the prototype system based on the concept that users share the information as if they put memos in the air and others nearby can easily check the information. We will explain about its mechanism and procedure in the next chapter.

They can put memos of whatever they noticed in daily life as 'a memo at the time at the place' so they can share not only advice to avoid missteps one another, but also the positive information like the beauty of flowers they saw in the flower bed. This system is also expected to lead the communication enriching our lives and minds. Because every one can easily dispatch and share their ideas by the use of IT devices.

3. Implementation of the system

This system consists of cellular phones with users and a server system. The server consists of a mail server, a data base server and a web server accessible from cellular phones.

When users want to attach photographs, they take pictures of the object with their cell-phone cameras, and check the latitude and longitude of their position at a time by GSP. Attach them to e-mail, write comments on it and send it to the predetermined mail address. They can do all this procedure for about a minute. Once mail server receives this mail, it transfers the data to data base server. A web page for cellular phones is automatically made with a memo pad-shaped icon on the position where he is on the map. Then the mail server sends the URL back to the cellular phones. They can access the web page through the URL and see their own icons on the map. (Not only theirs, but other icons shown on the display at a time. Although it depends upon the settings, it takes about a couple of minutes since they send e- mail until they receives it back.) Moreover, when they click icons, they can see photographs and comments that they sent on the Internet.

They can browse other memos when they send an e-mail with only latitude and longitude of the present position checked by GSP. They can also browse maps with icons.

The map is based on a scale of 1/6500 and about 200meters square can be displayed on the screen of cell-phone. The positioning accuracy of GPS is around 15 meters outdoors, but the error must be bigger indoors because GPS uses electric wave from the satellite.

4. Field research

We made a demonstrational experiment of this prototype system in the field. I selected Hamamatsu City in Shizuoka Prefecture as a testing area. It is a common local city of medium-scale with a population of 600,000. I researched in the urban area around the station.

Ten members of a local NPO took part in the demonstrational experiment. They were collecting information of barrier free necessary for senior citizens and people with disabilities to move around the city. So we asked them to collect information of these in the experiment, too.

We prepared 7 cellular phones. A NPO member and a research stuff made a pair. Each pair had a cellular phone. After a brief lecture about operation, they were walking around the city collecting information freely for three hours.

5. Analysis of experiment and considerations on the system

After the experiment, we interviewed all participants and analyzed the experiment and criticized the system. We could collect various information on memos such as roads, construction sites, traffic signs and advertising displays. Because each member has different view points. They could find so tiny problems that they usually ignore because they could make memos of information by handy terminals whenever they noticed it. They also sent comments to others' comments, and they complemented information and solved their problems by themselves.

As the evaluation of the system, we found difficulty in operating instructions. It is because we have to operate a lot of buttons to make one record. However, some participants being accustomed to cellular phones could understand and master it soon.

6. Conclusion and challenges for the future

It is important to build a data base to reuse the information collected by participants because it covers very wide range. We need to consider how to classify it under what condition because of less information. And the mechanism to automatically collect and accumulate the environmental information around the position would be possible.

We also need to improve the way to reuse the collected information. If we have more information, it would become more difficult to find the only necessary information on the small screen of cellular phone. The function to sort the necessary information for users is necessary in some way.

The system used in the experiment was complicated to operate because it was composed of existing cellular phones. It has become complex to operate because users had to use individual functions of cellular phone such as photography, GSP and e-mail in combination. It is necessary to improve it and make all these operations possible by pressing one bottom in the future.

We could not offer the collected information to sight-restricted people because we used cellular phones without phonetic function. We need to develop terminal equipment easy to use not only for sight-restricted people but also senior citizens and people with disabilities in the future. It is also important to deepen cooperation among relevant organizations, for example offering gathered data actively to administrations for the city planning.


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