Navigation system for the visually impaired

December -2013


In spite of so many developments in various technologies , why is accessibility still a major problem for the people with low or no vision. Through this experiment we aim at designing a solution around the accessibility of the visually impaired focusing on the fact that the monuments are either rarely or never visited by the visually impaired (VI).

The visually impaired are restricted to a lot of constraints. Through this project we try to increase their accessibility and make them more empowered by giving them the opportunity to navigate according to their own will.


My friend informed me about the effects of retinitis pigmentosa. A degenerative condition for the eye. While on a trip to one of the museums, I realized there are no VI visitors in the museum there. When I thought more, I realized there are no VI visitors in the monuments that I have visited across the country either.

There were existing technologies that were solving the navigation problem using the likes of LIDAR, or 3D mapping etc, but these technologies were too expensive to be in reach of a common man.

On doing furthur research, I found out how mergin two exisiting technologies could be the solution we have been looking for. This was the AHA moment.


I decided to merge two pre-existing technologies, one for identification of the routes using RFID tags embedded into the carpet , the other , audio guides. The prototype could navigate the people with high accuracy. The feedback on the smart cane and the navigation system was great. The two simple ideas when combined and designed to the needs, showed a lot of promise.


Our prototype includes a technology that has been used by various robotic guiding systems in the past. We wanted a system which was sustainable yet cheap. So we use the concept of RFIDs to navigate the canes . RFIDs are widely used in daily activities. They are used mainly for the purpose of identification of various things. From metro-cards to office and college IDs.

We have integrated the concept of RFIDs with audio books that are pre-existing in the monuments. So basically the prototype is going to be a simple hardware equipment which is going to be attached to the existing canes. Hence making it not only low cost , but also more tangible.

Development so far

  • The POC has been successfully tested to small controlled environments.
  • The POC includes an arduino powered RFID sensor which reads the tags and provides the trigger points for the audio to be played.
  • The audio at this point is being played in the computer itself.
  • The prototype v2 triggers the audio in the mobile app which emulates the existing audio guides.
  • Team

    Concept and Prototype - Rishi Gaurav Bhatnagar

    Validation and Testing - Bhavana Mukunda