SBIR Phase II: Electronic Orientation and Navigation System for People with Visual Impairments

Period of Performance: 01/01/2008 - 12/31/2008


Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

ManningRF, LLC
2718 Winningham Rd.
chapel hill, NC 27516
Principal Investigator


This Small Business Innovation Research Phase II research project will design, build and test a new type of orientation and navigation (O&N) system for people with visual impairments. While GPS-based solutions show promise in outdoor environments, there are currently no widespread O&N devices that are designed for use in indoor environments. This makes it difficult for people with visual impairments to navigate through indoor public spaces. The purpose of this research will be to complete development of a new type of radio frequency identification (RFID) system, in which intelligent, variable-range active RFID beacons are programmed with information about their locations and placed through indoor environments like schools, shopping malls and museums. This information will be accessible to people with visual impairments via a small RFID receiver worn on the user?s belt. Information will be conveyed to the user via a text-to-speech interface. Results from field testing have demonstrated that the device helps people with visual impairments to navigate through an unfamiliar environment. Phase II research will complete development of the communications protocols and interface techniques that give the system its unique capabilities for delivering speech-based information to people with visual impairments. There are 10.4 million people with visual impairments in the U.S., and this research will lead to an inexpensive commercial product that will greatly enhance their ability to