NavPal, an Android smartphone app, was developed through the Robotics Institute's TechBridgeWorld program to provide audio and tactile cues to help guide the visually impaired. The technology and Project Scientist Balajee Kannan were featured in a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article.
From Deborah M. Todd's article:
"The university's TechBridgeWorld program, which focuses on increasing technology access to underserved and developing communities, and the Robotics Institute's rCommerce Lab have been working the past few years to create NavPal, an Android smartphone app that combines GPS technology with audio and tactile cues to help blind users find their way around.
"Balajee Kannan, project scientist who holds positions with both the rCommerce lab and TechBridgeWorld, said representatives of the Western Pennsylvania School for Blind Children approached TechBridgeWorld a couple of years ago seeking solutions to help blind people evacuate buildings during emergency situations. The need became all too apparent mid-April, when the Oakland-based school was forced to evacuate after a bomb threat.
"Mr. Kannan said researchers decided early on that applying the technology to a smartphone would be the most cost-efficient and accessible approach."