“While these experimental systems were designed to accommodate the needs of blind pedestrians, information is also displayed visually to be beneficial to all users and enhance social integration.”
And, regulations are being expanded to address unmet needs like those satisfied by the talking models. Touch-responsive models and maps anticipate these possible developments, and foresee a day when enhanced accessibility features are routinely added to public information displays.
How touch-responsive models and maps work
All three installations rely on capacitance sensing to measure multi-finger touches on opaque, textured surfaces and shapes. The need to sense touches against irregularly shaped surfaces requires a different approach compared to flat touchscreens. In these examples, conductive paint was applied to plastic forms produced by 3D printing or CNC milling. Rooms, buildings, walking paths, roads, bus stops, or other map features that react when touched are created as individual, electrically isolated painted regions. The regions are connected by thin wires to sensors housed in the pedestal, and a computer handles all interactions and displays relevant media stored as sound clips and visual imagery. The sensors use a patented method (Landau & Eveland, 2014) of measuring finger pressure, and software permits building staff to “tune” the model, equalizing trigger-thresholds for each zone, to produce a convincing illusion of pressure sensitivity. Through user testing, the developers optimized sensing algorithms to ensure that users with different degrees of hand
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with a minimum of instructions. Any action taken should result in a satisfying, understandable result that Visuals moves the user closer to sought-after While these experimental systems information. To this end, developers were designed to accommodate created dual interaction modes the needs of blind pedestrians, that can be used separately or in information is also displayed combination. visually to be beneficial to all users Direct touch. The first thing new and enhance social integration users think to do when trying out one (Goal 6). In the model designed of these systems is to simply touch the for the Carroll Center Campus, tactile surface. The first time one of the buildings were painted in colors touch-responsive zones is activated by that distinguish dormitories from a direct touch, the name of that room, academic buildings, and roads building, or outdoor space is spoken are painted white to set them off and a visual spotlight appears there. from black lawn areas. After user Maintaining finger pressure causes testing, developers determined the system to play a description of that dynamic visual information activities or occupants at that location, should be added, so at Chicago followed by walking directions to travel Lighthouse for the Blind, the to that location. developers installed an overhead Main menu. For those users video projector that shines down seeking general information about on the shiny gray map surface (gray the building or campus or who want optimizes reflectivity in daylight to customize the way information is conditions). This innovation delivered, a simple three-button user animates the 3D tactile surface interface provides easy access to a with light, and permits a variety main menu of options. Users move of useful and beautiful effects, forward or backward through menu such as projecting matching options using right and left arrow satellite imagery on the model from buttons, and they select the current above. The enhanced dynamic option by pressing the circle button presentation techniques allow between the triangles. The most customization of the image to fit powerful option in the main menu is specific needs or values of the the index, which permits users to move sponsors and to address unique through a list of all places shown on the features of the place; for example, map, and then select one to be guided valued natural features or acoustic there on the map through a process of qualities (Goal 8). incremental voice coaching. For blind users, this is crucial, because it serves Interaction the same purpose as the alphabetical Universal Design Goal 4 calls for listing of offices in many mainstream design that’s easy to understand, building directories: if you know the meaning that new users should name of the place where you are going be able to figure out what to do but not its location, you can look it up.
strength and dexterity found the systems easy and enjoyable to use.
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