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 »

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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 »


Crowdsourcing for accessibility.

10/15/2012

Logo of Blog Action Day 2012 - "The power of we"This year’s blog action day is dedicated to the power of WE. Given this bolg’s focus on accessibility I can see many ways that we can help for accessibility. Sometimes even without knowing about it. The story of CAPTCHA and reCAPTCHA that follows is just an example of such a case.

CAPTCHA which is an abbreviation for Completely Automated Public Turing Test To Tell Computers and Humans Apart is something that most of us have come across in our web browsing. It’s a picture with a set of words presented in a distorted way that aims to tell humans from computers apart. It is usually found in cases where developers want to avoid spamming.

However, as successful as CAPTCHAs might be in avoiding spamming in various cases they are also very successful in preventing people with disabilities to comment, respond, and use whatever feature is protected by a CAPTCHA. How could a blind person see and understand what is written in an image which doesn’t have and alternative text? How could a persons with dyslexia and other print disabilities use them? Read the rest of this entry »


Not now mom, I’m on the class… the virtual one!

10/08/2012
Image of a virtual reality classroom

Virtual reality classroom
Source (http://www.dipity.com/brianne/personal/)

This week we are revisiting once again education. We already talked about collaborative learning and how ICT helps in that process in a previous post.

Another interesting trend in CSCL is the use of virtual worlds and gaming. Currently, there is a variety of applications on the web offering educational virtual worlds for kids that require children to complete projects and tasks, play games and throughout this process learn a variety of subjects. Read the rest of this entry »


My grandma and her smart home.

10/01/2012
Elderly woman using a tablet

Elderly woman using a tablet
(source: http://www.ashvillesmarthomes.com/)

Well, I wish that my grandma was living in a smart home but she doesn’t and this post is going to briefly discuss some of the challenges why smart homes for health services for elderly are not yet an everyday reality and what needs to be done to get there.

An area with interesting results in monitoring services is this of smart homes. In the past technologies for smart homes meant that a set of sensor would have to be wired into the house. This installation was a problem since it meant drilling holes into walls, Read the rest of this entry »


In the meantime… (#3)

09/27/2012

Coincidence is a funny thing. It doesn’t have to do anything with accessibility though but it does have to do with how this post was written.

Some days ago, scanning at my Facebook feed I came across an article from scientific american about people with disabilities and superpowers. For all the comic fans out there, it doesn’t have to do with any of the classic heroes such as superman, spiderman, wonder woman, or anyone else. The only superhero refered that happens to match the story of the article is Daredevil who happens to be blind. Read the rest of this entry »


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