I’m not sure what to think of this. I think it has potential, but I am glad it’s an early prototype.
It’s called Project Guideline, and its aim is to let blind people run independently without needing a dog, a cane or a human guide.
There are good things about it, like how the app runs all on the device and doesn’t rely on an internet connection. The last thing you need when you’re running is to have your navigation aid experience lag. I also like that it advocates the use of bone-conduction headphones so your ears stay open.
Now here are the things I’m not sure of. The reason I’m not sure could be simply because I don’t understand all the details. Currently, you need a facilitator. Doesn’t that sort of defeat the purpose? This is supposed to allow someone to run independently. If they need someone to set them up every time, where’s the independence? Hopefully that’s just needed because it’s in the prototype stage. Also, someone has to paint a guideline on a trail for it to work. Any time people have to wait for an organization to fund the infrastructure, I’m not sure how far-reaching the benefits will be, unless the infrastructure is being built to benefit a bigger group and this is piggybacking on it.
And how do you deal with obstacles that weren’t present when the guideline was built? I know you can still hear, but some obstacles are tricky to detect, especially if you’re focusing on following the boopboopbeeping in your ears to keep on the trail.
I’m not a runner, so maybe I’m missing something. Also, I don’t want to poop on the idea. It does have potential. The question is how do we figure out a way to get its machine learning to be so good that somebody doesn’t have to paint guidelines for it to follow and you don’t need a facilitator to come along. I hope that’s part of the plan.