The idea of an electronic guide was developed by a Mykolaiv engineer and is now being improved on by mobile programmers
Ukrainian developers have come up with a revolutionary system of GPS wayfinders, they help people with visual impairments to navigate in and around the city. At the moment this system is still in the testing stage. The devices have been installed in one of the most intricate underpasses for the blind right in the center of Kyiv - Maidan Nezalezhnosti.
"I am here and need to find an entrance to the underpass. I have a phone with a preinstalled application called Open World"
Ihor Kushnir is the first to test that system for the blind. He has not been able to see for already 8 years. In the underground passage under Independence Square, where even sighted people can barely navigate, the man is launching this application. The program scans trackers nearby. Via Bluetooth, it sends a signal, and a tracker makes itself visible.
"Then, I can hear a tracker and go there"
In such a way, Ihor manages to get to the post office on the Maidan. Only these exits from the underpass are equipped with such trackers so far.
This is a Ukrainian invention. Ivan Selezniov from Mykolaiv created it and the discovery quickly became sensational amongst designers. Since then, programmers have been improving on the idea and it's undergoing technical trials.
"600 trackers have already been ordered by other cities"
The success lies in its simplicity, a Paralympic sportsman Vasyl says. He's demonstrating how the system works. Not knowing his surrounding, he can easily reach places he needs.
Ukrainians with sight problems call the invention a revolution in their world. Yet, Ukrainian cities for them form a solid obstacle course. Only in the capital, there are 70,000 people with visual impairments that try not to leave their homes because of inaccessibility of places.
After a successful test, trackers are planned to be equipped along the whole street of Khreschatyk.
"In order to equip Khreschatyk Street, we have already developed a draft budget of USD 2,580 for 89 trackers"
If mass production of these trackers is established, the price of one tracker won't cost more than 16 dollars, according to the developers.
The Kyiv authorities promise to equip all municipal facilities and institutions with a GPS navigation in the near future. And they will be marked on a map and available through the application.