convenience to the lives of the blind through the Navro.
Navro is an app that helps visually impaired people navigate more easily. By leveraging the stronger senses of blind people, we can have them follow the navigation system and find their route with sensors. The challenge is to introduce a greater level of convenience to the lives of the blind through the Navro application by connecting their Navro to a mobile phone.
My role in this project, as a UX designer, was to find the right users and add features to blind people, developed through user research, user story mapping, and wireframing / design / prototyping.
Why the visually impaired?
Access to and use of mobile wireless technology has become critical to social and economic participation for people with disabilities. As the technology increases in power and sophistication, these customers increasingly rely on mobile devices and software for functions previously available only through dedicated “assistive technology.”
Vision changes as you age, and there has been a shift to a philosophy of “Can I help?” instead of “Let me help.” Many blind and visually impaired people find more independence because of that shift — they want to find an app with strong functionality that allows them to avoid some of the struggles they typically have navigating the world.
Many leading, commercially-available smartphones have accessibility features for blind or visually impaired people. Screen readers and voiceover products allow the blind to use smartphones and computers — which makes the smartphone a good avenue for assistive technology. Moreover, the future of technological features has been changing and developing a lot due to the “user-friendly playground” for all types of users.
Smart Phone Usage
Globally, approximately 1.3 billion people live with some form of vision impairment and (with reference to distance vision) 188.5 million people have a mild vision disability, 217 million have moderate to severe vision impairment, and 36 million people are blind.
A majority of people who are blind or visually impaired don’t know how to read Braille. In 2009, The National Federation for the Blind cited statistics announcing that less than 10 percent of blind Americans can read Braille. They prefer listening to narrated audio.
Navro offers guidance based on map data and obstacle sensors, finding the most safe route by connecting the product to a smartphone via Bluetooth. The app aims to create the most customer-centric navigation service and provide alerts to obstacles perfectly timed to ensure safety and stability.
Navro not only provides personalized navigation services to customers such as vibration and sound settings, which assure their protection along the way. At the same time, Navro trains users know, via the product, when an unexpected situation arises.
Indicating obstacles on as well as above the ground.
Since the sensor feature is very important for alerts and ease of navigation, we consistently hear about the experiences they’ve had with such things and discovering other problems which have yet to be solved.
Most of navigation for blind people is based upon mental mapping. Product offerings and assistive technology for disabled people continue to be developed at a fast pace—help for the blind is becoming universal. However, people who have visual problems still experience inconveniences that sighted people don't: ordering food, finding locations, etc,. Ironically, there are actually a lot of applications that offer reading services for blind people but no standard for protecting their safety while walking around.
Competitive Market Research
"“Be my eyes” is an app for blind people who need help. Sighted people can also use the app as volunteers. Through a live video calling system, the visually impaired users can get assistance from the sighted volunteers. 90% of video calls are answered within 30 seconds.
“BlindSquare” is a navigation application for blind people. The app describes the street environment, announces points of interest and street intersections while you travel. However, the app icons or buttons are very small, which causes problems with tapping to operate the voiceover or screen reader system.
Finding Pain Points
The UI design should have different sounds or vibrations that are easy to access and navigate the route for users to recognize each task. All the required details— alert system and route finder—have different colors, sound or vibration.
Providing a different interface from current application design for visually impaired people by adding different types of icons and color.
Clearly, the target audience is the blind and visually impaired. They are not satisfied with extant navigation applications, which do not have enough useful functions. In summary, visually impaired people want a method to provide safety alongside productive functionality.
Interview possible users - It allows to solve problem more effectively
People, visually impaired or not, are aware of the importance of safety and the difficulty of living without assistive products. Sighted people only recognize blind or visually impaired people when they see them with a service dog or cane.
Learning & Finding
Blind people must pay special attention to their safety when they are outside since they can’t see. However, this specific community educates them to use the cane or service dog. Therefore, they can eventually live their life more conveniently, but while using product which help them navigate, they’re only aware of obstacles at their feet, but they can’t recognize what’s directly in front of them or above the eyes.
These days, lots of people travel or go abroad for work or study. However, since vision is another new language, if the app only offers single language support, users face frustration and possibly panic.
Simple information is very important, such as street closed or construction locations, because most of the blind or visually impaired people do the mental mapping when they find the location, even though they use the cane to navigate—if they know the overall route via their mental map.
By educating them on how it works and letting them get to know the product in front of them, they can easily recognize not only the things on the street but also avoid the obstacles not in the street—especially things hanging in their like lights, signage, other decorations.
Blind people still have an inconvenient time navigating. There are, however, lots of products that people can use to help. They can notice obstacles on the ground in front of them by using a cane or following a service dog. But it’s hard to see anything above the ground.
By educating users how to use new technology before accessing navigating systems, by alerting users about important road conditions (closures and construction), visually impaired people can figure out where to go without mental mapping.
User safety is the first and most important problem to be solved.
User Journey Map
Kate, who is visually impaired, wakes as usual then checks the alerts she has received. After checking current road conditions—which streets are closed or under construction—she enters her destination by using voiceover and screen reader, and connects her phone with her cane via Blutooth. While walking on the street, she faces problems because there are lots of decorations hanging from the trees. However, since her cane and phone are already connected to each other, she feels vibrations which warn her of the obstacles ahead. Finally, she can avoid hanging obstacles.
User Flow - new user
Concept & Feedback
First Wireframe Feedback
Feedback from Testees 1
Feedback from Testees 2
Product Design - Cinema 4D
Fianl Product Design
What I've learned
Everyone has differences and their own mountain to climb. For some people it is easy and for others difficult and some in-between. Starting this project, For me, as a person who isn’t visually impaired was hard. Designing for people who have visual disabilities required me to do lots of research. By first designing aclow-fidelity wireframe based on research and then letting them try each task, I realized the most important thing is finding what they want not what I want. Carefully considered what they said and suggested, made some changes, and brought back strong the next round. I think it’s normal to fear the unknown however because I tried to talk and understand the problem which they’ve been experiencing, I finally could go one more step closer to solve the problems.
In order to discover the users’ attitude for using smartphones and navigation applications, I needed to keep asking; why? when I interviewed users. With a few of the user interviews, I found the problem which users want to solve: When users use the white cane when they to navigate the route. However, what if there is an obstacle while following the route? The product with the 360 camera and application design focused on sounds and vibration effect to avoid the obstacle.