Beacon-Based Indoor Wayfinding for the Blind, Visually Impaired and Disoriented

Beacon Study Graphic

Project Overview

There are few options for navigational aids for the blind and visually impaired (BVI) in indoor spaces, as technologies such as GPS used outdoors do not work indoors.

There are currently few options for navigational aids for the blind and visually impaired (BVI) in large indoor spaces. Such indoor spaces can be difficult to navigate even for the general sighted population if they are disoriented due to unfamiliarity or other reasons. This paper presents an indoor wayfinding system called GuideBeacon for the blind, visually impaired, and disoriented (BVID) that assists people in navigating between any two points within indoor environments. The GuideBeacon system allows users equipped with smartphones to interact with low cost Bluetooth-based beacons deployed strategically within the indoor space of interest to navigate their surroundings. This paper describes the technical challenges faced in designing such a system, the design decisions made in building the current version of the GuideBeacon system, the solutions developed to meet the technical challenges, and results from the evaluation of the system. Results presented in this paper obtained from field testing GuideBeacon with BVI and sighted participants suggests that it can be used by the BVID for navigation in large indoor spaces independently and effectively.

More information on this study can be found here (PDF file, opens in new window).


Join This Study

INCLUSION: over 18/under 60, normal health, AND impaired vision/use cane, impaired vision/use guide dog, low vision (legally blind, visual acuity <20/200 or visual field <20 deg) but no use of cane/dog, OR typical vision. EXCLUSION: N/A

Vinod Namboodiri, PhD
Adjunct Research Scientist
Consent Form (PDF File, opens in new window)

Team Members

Laura Walker, PhD
Executive Director Seyed Ali Cheraghi
Doctoral Student, Wichita State University

References & Publications

Cheraghi, S.A., Namboodiri, V., & Walker, L. (2017). GuideBeacon: Beacon-Based Indoor Wayfinding for the Blind, Visually Impaired, and Disoriented, IEEE International Conference on Pervasive Computing (IEEE PerCom), Kona Island, Hawaii, USA, March 2017.
Kim, J. E., Bessho, M., Kobayashi, S., Koshizuka, N., & Sakamura, K. (2016, April). Navigating visually impaired travelers in a large train station using smartphone and bluetooth low energy. In Proceedings of the 31st Annual ACM Symposium on Applied Computing (pp. 604-611). ACM.
Bentzen, B. L., & Mitchell, P. A. (1995). Audible signage as a wayfinding aid: Verbal landmark versus talking signs. Journal of visual impairment and blindness, 89, 494-505.
Kulyukin, V., Gharpure, C., Nicholson, J., & Osborne, G. (2006). Robot-assisted wayfinding for the visually impaired in structured indoor environments. Autonomous Robots, 21(1), 29-41.
Willis, S., & Helal, S. (2005, October). RFID information grid for blind navigation and wayfinding. In Wearable Computers, 2005. Proceedings. Ninth IEEE International Symposium on (pp. 34-37). IEEE.
Kriz, P., Maly, F., & Kozel, T. (2016). Improving indoor localization using bluetooth low energy beacons. Mobile Information Systems, 2016.