Liz Halperin's Dream

I just got an email from the incredible Liz Halperin. She's one of our Bookshare team members and also happens to be deaf and blind. She shoots me me very interesting ideas frequently, and I thought I'd share this one with my blog readers. I can't quite figure out how to make it, but I bet someone will!!

Hi Jim, Busy, busy man. But I'm intruding because you are "intrude-able" and I have a dream. Like all good science fiction, it starts as a dream, and then somehow becomes real. You have blogged about various funders looking for those "great leaps of imagination", that if created, could make a huge benefit to people.

My idea has likely been floated already, I have no idea. But it's tech-time sci fi.

I imagine I have a small, lightweight box or sphere or flat case like a woman's cosmetic compact in my rear jeans/slacks pocket , purse/briefcase or backpack. I stand in front of a building and pull out the item, and push a button on it or give a verbal command or a method from my wheelchair. The unit opens out to be a hologram. I can give commands (as above) for different levels of info. General layout down to exact placements of empty chairs in an office, or location of receptionist at his desk. Finding the front door, the elevator. If I'm deaf-blind, being able to physically feel the potted plants between the door and elevator. If I use a wheelchair, being able to see in advance if a restroom will be accessible. The hologram not to be just vision: but able for people to feel items, or have stuff spoken to them. Ability to program it for individual needs (me to manually feel, vs. Scott Rains to see vs. Rob Turner to have it read aloud, or converted to braille, and so on) [Note from Jim: Scott Rains is a wheelchair user and Rob Turner is blind, both on our team here at Bookshare]. I could scope out my street for X number of blocks. Discover *in advance* that 36th is closed to pedestrians on south side due to construction. (A biggie for me.) When done, the whole thing collapses back into its mini-shape. This is GPS to an exponential level. It would be immediately updated when turned on, via some sort of satellite or other new tech for indoors. I could stop outside my aunt's house and find which furniture has been moved where. Could help soooo many people, including the senior/geriatric set.

Big dream. High tech. "Out there." But why not???? Maybe you can pass this idea off to someone who likes the headgame and might even pitch it to one of those funders….


Anonymous said…
If this dream had to come true, one tiny (but important) part of it might come from the OpenStreetMap community (OSM). OSM volunteers mainly map stuff outdoors. But they also try to do indoor mapping for accessibility purposes. One could imagine that OSM will provide an indoor navigation system and maps for smartphones and tablets. Here is the link to the OSM indoor mapping hub :

I happen to be working on an OSM-related accessibility project in France. It's called iDact. At the moment iDact offers an iPad application which allows people with visual deficiencies to plan their trips through the corridors of the Paris subway stations for instance. There is vocal feedback. No tactile/haptic feedback yet, though.

Here is more info about iDact in case you can read French :

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