BlindSquare is a GPS-app for persons who are blind, deafblind or partially-sighted. Paired with third-party navigation apps, BlindSquare self-voicing app delivers detailed points of interest and intersections for safe, reliable travel both outdoors and indoors.
After determining the user’s location, the app gathers information about your surroundings using Foursquare (yielding 120M Points of Interest) and OpenStreetMap. Algorithms determine what information is most useful such as popular cafes, post offices or libraries as defined by the person using the app. BlindSquare tracks its user’s destination and periodically announce the distance and direction he/she is heading. Filters can be applied to avoid being overwhelmed by details in the surroundings. BlindSquare was first developed in Finland, now in its 9th year delivering services to over 180 countries in over 25 languages to announce information about the environment.
"We have 100 beta testers, every time we have new ideas, we test them right away."
Ilkka Pirttimaa is the CEO of MIPsoft (the Finnish Company), makers of Blind Square and Rob Nevin as his business partner.
Current business operations are financed through revenues from the app and related services.
To change the lives of persons who are blind, putting financial gains secondary. The aim is for Blindsquare to be a service provided in many countries, bringing autonomous access to structures, campuses and outdoor venues such as parks - areas that currently are barriers for persons who are blind.
"We have 100 beta testers, every time we have new ideas, we test them right away. I have read a lot of research papers. I learned all things much faster when implementing and testing and getting feedback. Developing tiny features and getting feedback – they (the users) are using it every day so they can tell quickly if something works good or bad.”
Illka Pirttimaa, CEO, MIPsoft (BlindSquare).
Tech trends: Prototyping, Algorithm-design, Sharing economy
Societal trends: Global networking, Transparency, Urbanization, Experiences, Ecosystems
This case can be linked to at least three of the SDGs: No. 3 - Good health and well-being - and 10 - Reduced inequalities - as it improves the well-being of people with reduced vision. Additionally, no. 11 - Sustainable cities and communities - due to making the city more inclusive to a disabled group.
Interviews with MIPsoft (BlindSquare) principals Illka Pirttimaa and Rob Nevin
(1 minute demonstration video.)