WalkersGuide is a navigation aid based on OpenStreetMap data. It's designed especially but not exclusively for visual impaired people. It's main purpose is to calculate routes for walkers including public transportation. Currently the project contains an Android client and a server component, which performs the route calculation. The map data comes from OpenStreetMap, a project to create a free map of the world.
The project primarily addresses blind and visual impaired users. There are two main reasons for that:
- The currently available navigation systems which include a routing functionality don't consider the needs of that user group. For example information about the condition of ways and streets, a description of intersections and details about distance and bearing of the next routing point often are missing. Of course the client application must be accessible to assistive technology like screen reading software too. In case of the Android operating system that's Talkback.
- Meanwhile there exist solutions especially for blind and visual impaired users too. These are often apps for the iPhone operating system. But in summer 2013, when the project planning started, none of them offered a routing functionality. Instead they helped to get an overview about points of interest in the user's surrounding. Other aids were outdated or very expensive.
Based on this findings, a concept for a routing based navigation aid for blind and visual impaired users was created as part of a diploma thesis at the TU Dresden. You can find further information about the thesis here. After the research was completed, the concept was implemented and is ready for download now.
Next follows a list of the project's key features:
- Based on chosen start and destination the server calculates a route, which is optimized for walkers. Source for start and destination can be the current position, an address, a point of interest or the point history.
- Currently the server holds map data for the European continent. Therefore you only can use this navigation system within Europe but it's possible to provide maps of other continents in the future too.
- You can weight the routing results with an indirection factor. The value 1.0 finds the shortest route while a higher value searches for a more accessible one. For example the router could prefer secondary instead of primary streets. So you can avoid complex intersections and reduce the noise of the traffic.
- You get continuous feedback about distance and bearing of the next routing point.
- When you reach an intersection, you can query information about the name, condition and bearing of their streets in realtime.
- It's possible to include the local public transportation service into the route calculation process. If desired, the router searches for the best connection between chosen start and destination, guides you to the found station and tells you, which bus or train you have to take. Furthermore it's possible to view the next departures at a station. The timetable information come from the Deutsche Bahn. Therefore this feature currently is limited to Germany and some European cities.
- Beside the routing functionality the application also offers a list of nearby points of interest. This includes shops, public buildings, bus and train stations, intersections, traffic signals and some more.
- You can simulate every distant point like an address in another town or country. The application behaves as if you are really there. So it's possible to explore the next route destination while still at home.
- You can add personal favorites to mark important points.
The WalkersGuide project is licensed under the GNU General Public License. Therefore it can be used for free. You only have to install the client application, which can be found under Downloads.