If you are walking or cycling, and do not want to (or are unable to) spend most of your time focusing on a screen, the use of mobile devices tends to be a frustrating experience. The same is true in bright sunlight or if your eyesight is not good enough to see every detail on the mobile screen.
The persisting problem of displaying information on the small screens of mobile devices is pushing both display development as, well as that of non-visual interaction channels such as gestures, tactile/haptic interaction and sound. One problem is that the non-visual channels are often used only to enhance the visual instead of being truly designed to maximize the haptic and auditory channels themselves. Improved multimodal perceptualizations (visualization including senses other than sight) would make applications more accessible and easier to use in actual mobile, navigational situations.
The HaptiMap project, currently active in the Seventh Framework Programme of the European Community for research, is aimed at making maps and location based services more accessible by using several senses like touch, hearing and vision. It will enable digital maps and mobile location based services to be accessible to a wide range of users. The strategy is to develop tools that make it easier for developers to add adaptable multi modal components (designed to improve accessibility) into their applications; to raise the awareness of these issues via new guidelines and to suggest extensions to existing design practices so that accessibility issues are considered throughout the design process. The project started more than one year ago and its focus as a whole during this first year has been the user studies. The HaptiMap user study guidelines have also been published.
The HaptiMap project has the possibility to fund a new commercial partner to develop a location-based service (LBS). The aim is to find a partner that can develop a location-based service that uses haptic, audio and/or visual information for the user interaction. This service will illustrate the use of the HaptiMap toolkit and important HaptiMap concepts. An acceptable alternative would be for the new partner to use the HaptiMap concepts and toolkit to enhance an already existing service.
To ensure good communication between the toolkit developers and the location based service developers, it is expected that a limited part of the new partner’s effort will be used for participating in the toolkit development. The new partner will also be expected to support (or participate) in the planned training and demonstration of the developed service.
The HaptiMap project receives financial support from the European Commission in the Seventh Framework Programme, under the Cooperation Programme ICT – Information and Communication Technologies (Challenge 7 – Independent living and inclusion). The existing consortium consists of 13 partners: Lund University, Sweden (coordinator), NAVTEQ, Siemens, BMT Group, CEA, ONCE, Finnish Geodetic Institute, University of Glasgow, OFFIS, Queen’s University, TECNALIA, Kreis Soest, and Lunds Kommun.
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