When I founded Waymap, I was inspired by something that Steve Jobs said when he was trying to get the iPhone through at Apple.
He said, if we can make this technology work for blind people, then it would work for everybody. And that’s pretty much what we’re doing with Waymap.
We designed something that started with solving a real problem for blind people like myself, but actually is something that’s really needed in many verticals. So, it’s a very commercial product, and it is one that’s going to be extremely profitable.
A Closer Look at Waymap’s Technology
We are guided by the principles of inclusive design. We started out trying to design for the most difficult user – blind people. We took advanced technology that was available, technology that was being used in the military space and in asset location space, and we turned that into something that essentially converts your mobile phone into a very accurate navigation device.
And how does it do this? We utilise the sensors on the phone (which by themselves are not very reliable or accurate) but they give you a reading of the direction you’re going in, if you’re going up, if you’re going down, and so on. We also measure the users step length. Then we take all this data and combine it with an algorithm that, when we put it against maps, can predict your next step to within one metre.
So, in other words, we can keep you within one metre accuracy and 10 degree heading accuracy all of the time. And because all of the maps are on your phone, and because the software is on your phone, if your mobile phone company loses you, or you don’t have what access to WiFi, then you don’t need it, it works.
Now, if it’s there, of course we use it, and it helped us out. But we also put in many other things into the phone, that allows it to help people and with disabilities, we just simply then stack, on top of the basic device, all of the extra features that they say that different forms of disabled people need. But actually, most of those are really cool for, for the ordinary person such as, you know, like, I use a mobile phone, everybody uses a mobile phone because it’s accessible for disabled people, there are some really cool features.
Key Features of the Waymap App
For blind people, it is very important that you receive a navigation instruction on time, that the instruction is clear, and that the instruction makes sense to you. So, when I’m being trained to use a white cane, or use a guide dog, I learn certain tricks about how to get around.
What we do is we harness that, and we create mental maps, so that you know, simply by saying straight ahead, rails on your left, right, it creates a mental map of where I am and what I need to do. And allows me, if I’m, for instance, the Washington Metropolitan Police, for instance, have asked us if we can develop a product to help them to find older adults who get lost? And the answer is yes, we can.
But in fact, we can put into the system, something that would prevent people from getting lost in the first instance, such as being able to off-ramp, being able to identify markers around you, having very simple aids within the phone that allow you to solve simple problems. But if you take it then for say, for me, one of the awful things was that I used to always have to ask my wife to take me to the supermarket to buy stuff.
And so, what we we’ve done is we develop the system because we know where you are to within one metre, and we know the way you’re looking within 10 degrees then know if you’re in the wine aisle or in the coffee aisle, and we know if you’re looking at the white wine or red wine, and so on.
And for me, this technology solves a great problem. But actually, for retailers, we’re finding that they’re really excited about this because it gives them greater opportunity to do proximity marketing.
The Waymap App Will Always Be Free
Venue owners – retailers, municipalities, and transport authorities – these are our paying customers. The Waymap solution actually works out as being relatively inexpensive in terms of overall marketing budgets.
And at this present moment in time, we are rolling it out across the entire Greater Washington Metropolitan Area. So that’s in the tri-state area in DC, and DC will be become the first city in the world to have a really inclusive transportation system that can be used by the 10 million visitors that come to DC every year.
So, for instance, the mayor’s office, I mean, you can imagine the bureaucracy in DC and the security and so on, but if they merge office, and all of the tourism industry are really, really excited about this. But even more importantly, we can now take this into the area of social care, we can get people who have dementia, people who have learning difficulties, and so on.
So we take something that will work for everybody that increases the experience. And we have in there features that allow people like me to be able to enjoy the city the same as everyone else.
Learning More About the Waymap Mission
It’s great to be featured at a prestigious event like the Bloomberg Summit, and it’s also a sign of the continued interest worldwide in a fully accessible navigation app.
To follow our progress, use the ‘Sign Up’ button to subscribe to our newsletter and receive regular Waymap updates. You can also read the rest of our blog posts here.
If you would like to work with us, or think that there is a location near you that can benefit from Waymap’s breakthrough navigation technology, please get in touch!