With the invention of Google Maps, navigating around in today’s world has become a child’s play. It has always been a savior for anyone and everyone bad at navigation.
Relocating to a particular location or encountering unexpected turns or commuting completely to a new location; Google Maps undoubtedly assists us in the best of ways.
Ubiquitously, navigating via Google Maps is as easy and straight forward as it sounds. However, the struggle is real for those who are visually impaired.
The visually impaired section of the society finds it challenging to navigate their ways without assistance. That being said, they are often dependent on people around to help them get to their destination.
We all know that Google is very consistent in making advancements in its technology. Therefore, in the latest Google Maps update, Google came up with good news for the visually impaired people out there.
What Is It About?
Google announced on World Sight Day, the launch of an additional feature in its worldwide famous navigational app. The new update is specially designed with detailed voice guidance for those who face challenges in their vision.
Considering the huge number of blind people, 36 million to be accurate and almost 935 million people with partial vision, such an initiative was taken up. It was noted that the idea popped up to Google on the recommendation of one of its employees who happens to be blind.
Wakana Sugiyama, a Tokyo based business analyst plays a key role in getting things in action. Expressing her concern about the difficulty faced by her in commuting to new locations, she says, “Some of my most pressing concerns include knowing if I’m going the right way or if a street is safe to cross,” she said. “I also frequently wonder if I missed a turn, if I’m on the correct side of the street at the right time, and of course, whether I’ve reached my destination, or if I’ve already passed it.”
Understanding the seriousness of this issue, Google immediately took up the idea and decided to do something about it. Henceforth, the launch of this additional feature took place.
Also Read : The Unnecessary New Features In Google’s Pixel 4 Show How Tech Companies Often Go Back On Their Word
Let’s Take a Virtual Tour..
To use this feature, you need to –
- Head towards the Google Maps settings
- Select “Navigation”
- Find the “Walking Option” bar
- Select “Detailed Voice Guidance” from the bottom of the screen
Once you’ve enabled the same, you’re good to go.
This new feature is not only beneficial for the visually impaired ones but for anyone who’s traveling to a new place or wants a more screen-free experience. The detailed voice guidance will tell you if you’re walking on the correct route; or how much distance is left to be covered.
Not only this, it notifies you about the direction in which you’re walking and also warns you about approaching large intersections. It also tells you to re-route your navigation, in case you accidentally leave the same.
How it all started?
In the year gone by, Google Maps worked closely with Wakhana Sugiyama, the Japanese Googler to build a more effective solution aiding the visually impaired.
Sugiyama conveyed her idea at Google’s Geo For Everyone Hackathon at various locations in 2018. After untiring efforts, she finally received a heads up from Google’s Product Director, Rebecca Moore, and a solution-oriented approach was taken up.
Surprisingly, it was easy to incorporate this feature into Google Maps and no satellite data was required.
Talking about the product efficiency, Bill Steinmetz, Software Engineer at Google Maps, says that “Detailed voice guidance directions are based on the same digital map of the world as our other directions, but we’ve re-tuned them to be optimized for users with vision impairment.”.
Well, the idea of detailed voice guidance for navigation might not sound that fascinating to people with normal vision, but I am sure it’s a big relief for the visually challenged ones.
The feature is available for Apple and Android users in Japan and the USA. FYI, India has a total of 62 million visually impaired population. A number big enough to gather the attention of authorities!
Considering the same, I’m sure the feature will be introduced in India very soon and will be a delight to the ones facing trouble with navigation.
Until then, we can rejoice over this innovation knowing we’re heading the right way!
Image Credits: Google Images
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