We spent years of research and testing over three continents to develop a user experience that made sense for the visually impaired. Guide Dots also used Android accessibility features, such as speech synthesis, voice recognition, and “explore by touch”, which narrates buttons with one tap, and activates them with two.
The app uses GPS data from the Google Maps API, Facebook Nearby API, GeoNames API and Beacon technology (which allows indoor accessibility). To house geo-tagged location data, a custom database was built in Parse.
Guide Dots was launched on Android on 16 April 2014.
The app has enhanced the independence and quality of life of users in more than 57 countries, with an average of 16.2 minutes per session, 188% above the average session times on Android apps (Adobe, 2013).
As user MyRae Migliazzo explains, "It gives me the same ability I would have if I were walking with a partner. Independence just becomes second nature."
And with over 6,218 crowdsourced locations added within the first 3 months alone and more locations adding Beacons, Guide Dots is poised to evolve and become richer in detail as more people use it.
Guide Dots also attracted praise from around the world, including from Reuters, MSN and Contagious I/O, and from the visually impaired community, with 72.7% of Guide Dots users polled agreeing that, "GDAB enhances my quality of life". This has already translated to greater awareness and support for Guide Dots, guide dogs and GDAB.
For the more than 285 million visually impaired people worldwide, losing their sight also means losing independence because they have to rely on others to get where they’re going and to learn what’s around them. Guide dogs help them go from place to place safely, but they’re not trained to tell you about the places you’re passing by.
To help Guide Dogs Association of the Blind improve the quality of life of the visually impaired, we created Guide Dots, a free audio-based discovery app with accessibility features. It’s a powerful tool designed to complement guide dogs and white canes to give greater independence to the visually impaired.
Guide Dots combines location data with proprietary crowd-sourced GPS locations to “paint” a picture of the user’s surroundings. Guide Dots calls out locations and intersections, finds friends who have checked in nearby, and informs users about special offers, opening up the user’s world.