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Our students work on an app to help the blind

The app prototype has won the main prize in the Campus App Challenge hackathon. Now the winning team is developing their idea.

The project is the product of efforts of five students: Łukasz Ławniczak, Jakub Kmiotek, Miron Marczuk and Tomasz Urbaszek of the Faculty of Mathematics and Information Science of the Warsaw University of Technology and Szymon Stankiewicz of the Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science of the Jagiellonian University. They developed a model of an advanced in-building GPS with a voice assistant and intuitive control to guide blind people up and downstairs throughout multi-story university buildings. The Campus App Challenge judging panel appreciated the versatility and simplicity of the app in terms of both its potential for deployment at universities and the user experience.

“Our app, Indoor Available, automatically loads data from USOS, the university student management information system, so that it will know the individual timetables of all users and will alert them of any changes of rooms or cancelled classes in real time,” explains Tomasz Urbaszek. “With Indoorway microlocalization, the best route to the destination can be found, and this, combined with the easy-to-use voice navigation, allows the visually impaired to get round corners with confidence and easier navigate the campus.”

How come the team resolved to start a project with the blind in mind? “We noticed that while new buildings had been designed to be accessible for people with motor disabilities, no signalling system or signage had been included for those with visual disabilities, thus making getting around the university yet another challenge,” says Tomasz Urbaszek.

The authors of the winning app haste to say that Indoor Available is suitable for all students who find it hard to locate a point on the faculty campus.

Now the winners develop their software under the experienced eye of professional software developers and managers. There are plans for more than 40 implementations at universities across Poland and for reaching out to schools abroad.

A 24-hours hackathon hosted by the Warsaw University of Technology, the Campus App Challenge had 14 teams competing. Each team worked on a prototype of an app based on a microlocalization system to cater for the needs of students at Polish universities. As the premises of the Faculty of Mathematics and Information Science were digitized by the contenders, students can continue to build and develop their own apps using the in-building navigation system even after the competition is over.

The promoters and organizers of the hackathon were Daftcode and Indoorway as well as the Faculty of Mathematics and Information Science of the Warsaw University of Technology. The strategic partner was the Capital City of Warsaw.