Path Guide is a recently-released Android app that takes a unique approach to providing step-by-step navigation information for indoor travel. Microsoft's research project, Path Guide, uses the 'follow the leader' concept. It relies on crowd sourcing the desired information. To add a new indoor route, one person walks the route while running the Path Guide app - this is known as 'tracing'. The app records the route and automatically counts the steps and documents the turns. For more details, the person can include additional annotations, text, audio and photos. The route is then uploaded and made public.
There are numerous mainstream GPS applications and blind-specific applications that successfully address the issue of driving and walking navigation. However, based on satelite signals, GPS apps do not work inside buildings. Bluetooth Beacons can be programmed and deployed in indoor locations; currently there are very few locations that have beacons for the purpose of indoor navigation for travelers who are visually impaired.
This app is intended for mainstream use as well as for users who are visually impaired. A mainstream scenario might be to trace a route from the front door to a specific hospital room and then share that route with a visitor. The visitor might trace his/her route from his parking spot in the parking garage to the hospital room and reverse the route in order to locate his/her car in the parking garage.
The video below is an introduction video to the Path Guide app.
Orientation and Mobility Specialists: Microsoft is interested in feedback on this app. What do you think of this app? How can you incorporate it into O&M lessons? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below!
The video below demonstrates how to use the Path Guide app, including how to trace a route.