App will help blind users navigate Minneapolis

The Associated PressJuly 15, 2014 

— Researchers and students at the University of Minnesota are developing a smartphone app to help blind and visually impaired people navigate streets in Minneapolis.

The Minnesota Daily reports (http://bit.ly/VXAnm9 ) the app will guide visually impaired and blind people safely through intersections. It will provide the description of a crosswalk as the app user approaches it and allow him or her to request walk signals.

Ken Rodgers, who is blind and works as a disability program coordinator for the Minnesota Department of Transportation, said the app will significantly help the blind community in the Twin Cities.

"If we have to move to push a button and then have to get back in place, it's a challenge," he said.

The project began in 2010 and is nearly complete. Chen-Fu Liao, a senior assistance engineer at the university's Minnesota Traffic Observatory, said the research team still needs to obtain important traffic signal information from city officials.

Liao also said the team plans to test the app's technology at an intersection on campus within the next few months, before it goes live. Once it's ready for release, he said the goal is to offer the app for free.

Information from: The Minnesota Daily, http://www.mndaily.com/

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