2013-14 Master's dissertation by Remi Schoenmakers
Selected for Best of PO! 2014
Velit is a smartphone app designed specifically for wheelchair users which indicates the most wheelchair-friendly means of getting from A to B. The app takes potential obstacles and individual needs into account. As a result, wheelchair users can avoid physical fatigue and frustration and also feel more secure while moving around.
Mapping the environment
Obstacles which irritate the wheelchair user are charted using accelerometers, a gyroscope and a GPS receiver. The details recorded include surface quality, the slope of the pavement and the steepness of inclines. Temporary obstacles, such as road works, are included in the system using open data platforms.
A consequence of accelerometers is that you have to carry out a lot of measurements in one section of a street before you can make statements about its accessibility. For this reason, the designer worked with the Belgian postal service, BPost. A measuring device was attached to a postman's trolley. As a result, measurements are carried out every day throughout the city, providing reliable and complete data.
No two wheelchair users are the same, so it is important that route guidance can be tailored to the user. In the app, you can set several parameters such as the type of disability, type of wheelchair, battery life of the electric wheelchair, diameter of the wheels, hardness of the wheels and general fitness. Velit will provide a personalised route proposal based on these settings.
When you have prepared a route based on your specific requirements, you can store it for future use. When travelling along the route, users receive not only visual but also auditory feedback, so they don't have to keep getting their phone out while moving. In the settings, users can define which items they want to receive feedback on while en route.