People have more navigation tools at their fingertips than ever before. However, travelling from point A to point B can still be a difficult and confusing process, especially for those with accessibility needs

Public spaces such as nature trails, parks and beaches often use permanent 2D map directories that are inaccessible. Traditional 2D maps can be incomprehensible to people with permanent and/or temporary impairments such as learning impairments, vision impairments and even language barriers.

Checkpoint was developed through iterative research, design and user testing, as well as, collaboration with peers and way-finding experts. Checkpoint preserves the dignity of those with accessibility needs, by providing users with choices in the method of usage.
The 7 Universal Design Principles were essential to the project, with a focus on “Flexibility in Use” to serve the broadest range of human diversity, regardless of age or ability.
Checkpoint is a multi-sensory map kiosk enhancement and checkpoint navigation app. It assists how people with impairments navigate in a complex environment impairments.
Checkpoint was designed to enhance the traveling experience for people with permanent and/or temporary impairments such as learning, vision, and hearing
Visualization & Prototyping

Our designers were asked to conduct research on public way-finding, mobility, visual impairments, and anything that may impact way-finding for users. This information was then used to create basic personas for the next stage of creation

.Iterative Refinement

During the beginning of creative process, we began to conceptualize the direction we want to go in. We came up with several concepts which included way-finding, accessibility, and minimal user-engagement.In order to gather a wider range of concepts, we asked our design team to diverge and create 8 crazy ideas each. Giving us a total of 32 individual ideas that we could then begin converging and begin the first iteration.
First Iteration

The first iteration used a few components of the previous brainstorming and crazy 8 solutions. We focused on touch compatibility for those with accessibility needs. We conceptualized ideas around how to make the navigation as fluid as possible, while encouraging seamless interactions for both able and non-able participants.As a result, our prototype demonstrated a key understanding of our strongest considerations, however, we still felt like something was missing; an understanding of our vision. To find this, we looked back to our visualization and prototyping.
Project Testing & Refinement

We had to pivot here because our proposed concept had several misalignment with the key objectives we set initially for this project.Basically the concept we had at this point in the project, was designed for non-public spaces (ie. malls, school campuses, airports, etc.) instead of the initial problem space of public areas (beaches, nature trails, parks, etc.). Monolithic structures in public spaces involve more constraints compared to non-public areas as they are often exposed to outdoor environments and not digitized/electronic.

Issue 1. Indoor Augmented Reality
Even when applied to indoor spaces, the concept is still misaligned by developing values towards the wrong targeted users. Also AR is not adopted as a standardized feature in smartphones, so using it would require more set up. This may appeal to a tech enthusiast but not necessarily to our target audience, which is the general public.

Issue 2. Internet Connection

We were dealing with an environment that doesn’t always have accessible internet connection. Even more so, using a way-finding AR web app would require a good amount of battery power from the users phone, a setup process, and ability to sync with the kiosk data, thus creating even more obstacles without actually assisting with way-finding.
Direction Boards

The proposed project adds touch and sound elements to map directories alongside an app using GPS technology. Adding raised, tactile features will help users understand the map’s contents without relying on visuals.Direction boards are often placed at crossroads, where there are multiple directions to navigate. These boards serve as checkpoints, providing users with knowledge that they are heading in the correct direction to their destination. To make the boards more accessible, they will include a speaker for relaying information as an audio, braille and textured surfaces on the ground to guide the user to the post.

When a user touches an element on the map, capacitive touch sensors trigger a sound clip. The clip explains the location and description of the element and can connect to the users app. These features can be implemented by incorporating micro controller units and graphite paint in existing map kiosks. The capacitive touch enhances the accessibility of current directories, without the need to rely solely on touchscreen solutions. A navigation app on the user’s device improves the user experience of digital map solutions, while reducing the required cost of implementation.

This phase made use of an NFC bracelet, but using one's own device is more advantageous for users since they already have the devices set up to their own liking. A wearable bracelet is specifically designed for navigation and way-finding using sound and haptic sensors as a form of feedback. The device will have an NFC (Near Field Communication) and signal synchronization technology (Bluetooth / WiFi hotspot) for communicating data with the monolithic structures in public spaces. The bracelet idea proposed was later changed to support individual's phones and existing wearable devices. This created a more accessible project that allowed users to utilize a cost effective strategy.

The final solution was inspired by the idea of “How can we improve the experience of way-finding in parks and trails for visually impaired people so that they can feel encouraged to enjoy recreational activities in public spaces”. The team proposed a solution that aims to help those visually impaired, navigate more effectively through public spaces by adding on to the existing way-finding monolithic structures.The solution includes a wearable device for the user and a system of monolithic hotspots in public spaces that will help guide way-finding through sound, haptic feedback and textured surfaces.

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