[Art_beyond_sight_educators] Navigation System for Museum

David Andrews dandrews at visi.com
Tue Feb 9 05:48:56 UTC 2016

The North Carolina Museum of Natural Science 
today previewed what they billed as a first for 
museums nationwide, an iphone based indoor 
navigation system for the Museum’s Nature 
Resource Center.  The system is based on the 
BlindSquare or BlindSquare Event App and a series 
of small “iBeacon” transponders.  The system 
communicates through Bluetooth and requires an 
i-phone as it requires the internal compass to function.

In the case of the Nature Resource Center, 30 
iBeacon transponders were emplaced in the 
building, each transponder covering a 20 to 50 
square foot area.  As the BlindSquare app picks 
up a specific transponder, it generates a 
tone.  The app then announces the location and 
describes the environment, based on the compass 
reading.  For example, immediately as you enter 
the building, the transponder reveals that you 
are at the entrance.  Pointing your iphone 
straight ahead, you are informed that you are in 
the main foyer and that the flooring is 
marble.  Pointing the device to the east, the 
transponder informs you that the main stairway is 
to the east and that the flooring is 
carpeted.  Pointing the device to the west, the 
device identifies the elevators, rest rooms, 
Planet Café and museum store.  As you move 
through the building, you can orient yourself to 
your surroundings based on the specific 
transponder that you are receiving and the 
programming for the specific transponder.

The navigation system was a joint project of the 
North Carolina Museum of Natural Science, 
BlindSquare and Ed Summers, the manager of the accessibility team at SAS.

Speaking with James Benton with the Raleigh 
Commission on Disabilities, he stated that they 
would like to see the system adopted by the local 
shopping malls.  They would also like to see the 
navigation system emplaced at the Raleigh airport 
as well as the new Union Station rail facility.

Carl R. Keehn

         David Andrews and long white cane Harry.
E-Mail:  dandrews at visi.com or david.andrews at nfbnet.org

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