MATSUE, Shimane Pref. – Students at Matsue National College of Technology have developed a radio-operated guide system to help visually impaired people find their way through indoor facilities.
While most guide systems for the visually impaired rely on prerecorded audio messages, the Matsue system allows each individual to set the destination and walk toward the area by following exact instructions from the guidance device.
The device, built with the help of a local Shimane company, consists primarily of an array of radio transmitters fitted on ceilings and an earphone receiver.
The system allows users to set their destination inside the building by pressing a button on the receiver. The transmitters send the appropriate directions as the person approaches junctions or obstacles.
If the user makes a wrong turn, the system will provide a warning and issue a change in direction.
The system informs users when they reach their destination and tells them about their immediate surroundings, such as what is on their right and left.
Katsuaki Horie, an instructor at Matsue National College of Technology, said he is not aware of any other similar personalized guide systems in Japan for the visually impaired.
“We are eager to put the system into practical use,” he said, noting that such systems would be of great help in large public facilities.