The story of Human Access…

11/25/2013

bannerIt’s been a while since I last wrote on this blog and this post will partially explain soma reasons.

One of the things I learned from my few years in accessibility related research is that the needs of persons with disabilities are everybody’s needs. We just don’t usually get as annoyed as a person with a disability when for example we carry our baby on a stroller and there is no ramp to get into a building. most people can find a workaround. Persons with disabilities cannot! Or at least it takes more effort and time to do so. So providing solutions for accessibility in our everyday life does affect everybody’s lives. It can generally make our lives easier!

Another thing that fascinates me as a trend is the check in apps trend. People nowadays feel more comfortable than ever to share their presence on a specific place. Tha led services like Facebook checkins, Foursquare and Google places to posses a huge amount of geographical information of public points of interest. So, today you can go to a place you’ve never been before and people living there or passing by have already taken care of telling you what’s around the next corner and even more. They are telling where you can find the best food, what’s the offer of the day, and much more related information about any kind of place. There is only one thing missing. How easy is the access to that place. What if I am carrying a huge suitcase, or cannot see very well, or just had an accident and my mobility is limited. There is a huge amount of access-related information that’s missing. Information that ould make our everyday lives become so much easier!

… and that’s how Human Access came to life. At least the idea about it.

The actual Human Access app took a little bit longer. Some months of coding and we are now proud to present our first mobile app. A new Greek start-up company with a team of people full of enthusiasm for new technologies and innovative ideas with the strange (for some) name “Caretta-Net Technologies” managed to finally make the idea come true. Human Access is now live on Google Play Store and you can get it and start rating public points of interest for their accessibility using (for the time being) a simple set of 6 attributes. This is only the beginning. We are now waiting for your help and feedback for improvements and features you’d like to see. We want this app to make everybody’s life easier but most of all we want it to become YOUR app. Tell us your needs… your bad and good experiences… inspire us to come up with even more attributes that will improve our lives. Because accessibility matters… even for young mothers!

Our plans include a series of new features to come within the next months. For example, we plan to improve even more the look and feel so that you can understand which places are rated and how many users have rated a place, translation of attribute names and descriptions to major languages, improved search of places based on ratings, relieve reminders to rate a place when you check in on it etc. Even later, we are also thinking of integrating with Facebook checkins, combine statistics of Foursquare with accessibility ratings to produce “hall of fame” and “hall of shame” lists, and even suggest to you place that fit your needs. In parallel, we are going to develop our website to include relevant information on maps so that you can plan better your next vacation trip to Greece (or wherever you choose). And for those of you without an Android phone…. don’t worry. We are thinking of you too. You ‘ll just have to wait a little bit longer.

However, what we most of all need right now is your help! Get out there and start rating! It’s for a good purpose and it only takes a few seconds! Spread the news and tell your friends about our cause. Inspire them and make them start rating too. Help each other make our everyday lives easier. We believe in you!

I know I may sound over excited or too enthusiastic… but this is how we feel right now.

A beautiful journey has just started and we want you to share it with us.

Find out more about the app on …

The official site

Google Play Store

Facebook page

Twitter

Google+ page

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Is language a disability?

02/11/2013

Language barriersImagine the following scenario. You are in foreign country where you don’t know the language. You might be fluent in English but that doesn’t count too much because most people in the country don’t know English. You are list in the underground trying to find your way back to the hotel. You are struggling to find a map with English on it. You are struggling to find someone to talk and be understood so that he can help you. For many people this is a quite stressfull situation. Personally, I find it a bit amusing and it’s one of the “remember the time when we… ” moments that you tell your friends about and laugh your herat out. However, if you are not on vacations and you are on business travel and have to catch a really important meeting, I could see myself stressed too. Read the rest of this entry »


Indoor navigation, outdoor navigation or simply… navigation?

12/17/2012
Traditional navigation tools

Traditional navigation tools

I already posted an article some time ago about WiFi and its potentials on providing the next indoor navigation system. The truth is that WiFi is just one of a number of different solutions presented for indoor navigation. There are also many more. For example, Sam’s Club mobile app is a mobile app that provides indoor navigation to specific items and shops in some selected American shopping malls since the beginning of 2011. Similarly, the FastMall app provides navigation for shopping malls in 31 countries using interactive maps that you download and use. In contrast to traditional mobile shopping and mapping apps, FastMall is based on MapOS platform that provides turn-by-turn walking directions for any venue without requiring a global positioning system (GPS), WIFI connection, or an Internet signal. Other applications in the same family are Meijer Find It and Micello Maps. Read the rest of this entry »


Will WiFi be the best solution for indoor navigation?

11/05/2012
Google Maps indoor navigation

Google Maps indoor navigation

I am returning to mobility problems in this post and especially for indoor environements. One of the most pressing issues for mobility impaired and vision impaired persons is the issue of getting around in unknown indoor environments. Getting lost, disoriented and even getting “trapped” in some circumstances can be quite a stressful situation for them.

Lately, a number of positioning techniques have been developed for indoor environments (e.g., the methods based on Wireless Local Area Networks (WLAN), Bluetooth, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), Ultra Wideband (UWB), infrared and ultrasound, etc.). Among these techniques, the approach on the basis of exploiting 802.11 WLAN (Wi-Fi) is attractive, which is expected to yield a cost-effective and easy-accessible solution. All modern smartphones have Wi-Fi built in, and wireless networks are common enough in indoor spaces that an app could easily scan for known access points and calculate your position using trilateration . This is currently enabled in open operating systems of smart phones, e.g. in Android ones. As an alternative, there are some Wi-Fi installations in buildings, such as the ones based on Cisco MSE that can determine the location of any wireless device in the building. The Wi-Fi access points receive the Wi-Fi signals created by the mobile phone and then estimate its position via trilateration. Read the rest of this entry »


Make AT not war!

10/22/2012

The title might seem a bit strange but this post has to do with… war. Maybe not war itself but military in general.

It’s been years now that the military all over the world tries to make the most out of soldiers supporting them with exoskeletons. In the US for example the Berkley Lower Extremity Exoskeleton (BLEEX) developed by UC Berkley Robotics and Human Engineering Laboratory Homayoon Kazerooni aims to “create an exoskeleton that combines a human control system with robotic muscle”. The project was funded by DARPA and in 2004 and at that time it was the most advanced exoskeleton. UC Berkley is also behind of another newer military exoskeletons as well titled Human Universal Load Carrier (HULC). HULC incorporates features from two other models of Berkley Robotics the ExoHiker and ExoClimber which were designed for carrying heavy loads during long missions and climbing stairs and steep slopes rapidly. Another DARPA funded project was the Sarcos exoskeleton which recently was improved by Raytheon to a newer stronger faster and better model titled XOS2. This exoskeleton, much like the Berkeley suit, works much like a human nervous system. A complex set of sensors act as nerves and hydraulics act as muscles.

The same lab has recently presented a new exoskeleton system called eLEGS aiming to help paraplegics and those with mobility disorder to stand and walk. eLEGS was selected as number 2 of the 10 Most significant Gadgets of 2010 by WIRED magazine. Read the rest of this entry »


In the meantime… (#2)

09/20/2012

That’s one more of those posts to wet your appetite… in between the weekly updates!

A few days ago I was going through my Facebook timeline and this article from mashable caught my attention.

It’s about a new pair of shoes that can guide you back home in case you’re lost. First thing someone would think will be… “Great… I won’t ever get lost again on my vacations!!!”. I don’t know how in fashion you would look with those blinking led lights on top of them but Read the rest of this entry »


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