Kentucky Patent of the Month – June 2022

American Printing House for the Blind Inc. (APH) was founded in 1958 in Louisville, Kentucky. Since their founding, they have risen to become the world’s largest nonprofit organization focused on creating accessible learning experiences for people who are blind and visually impaired. This feat has been achieved through decades of innovative research and development. The company has developed products of all kinds to make a real difference in people’s lives.

Recently, their innovative thinking has resulted in the design and development of a navigation assistance tool for the visually impaired. APH is set on continually advancing these tools, ensuring solutions grow and adapt with technology.

A traditional navigation tool is a white cane. Tools like this provide tactile sensory navigation for the user so that they can navigate in both familiar and unfamiliar environments. Other methods have been developed using handheld GPS devices to provide directions. Unfortunately, these tools are still limiting to the people who need them most. The GPS might lose signal and the cane doesn’t help a user to reorient themselves if they’ve gotten turned around. 

APH’s navigation assistance is provided through an app available on a smartphone. Since many people already walk around with their phone, this means there is no need to carry or remember additional tools or devices. The app provides voice navigation guidance that has been created in a unique way. Most navigation apps provide a directed navigational experience, telling the user exactly where to go and often in the most direct path. This navigation device allows for exploratory navigation by providing narrated results as the user moves along.

The device can use the phone’s existing location tool as well as to take advantage of wireless indicators within indoor areas. These indicators ensure the data provided gives the user accurate positioning information both indoors and outdoors. The user does not need to input a “destination” as is required in most other navigation devices. This is especially important since not all walks have an end goal.

Creating solutions that truly benefit the users, rather than restricting them further, is a key goal of APH. Their R&D department is inspired to create solutions that allow everyone to have an optimal level of access to the world around them.

Are you developing new technology for an existing application? Did you know your development work could be eligible for the R&D Tax Credit and you can receive up to 14% back on your expenses? Even if your development isn’t successful your work may still qualify for R&D credits (i.e. you don’t need to have a patent to qualify). To find out more, please contact a Swanson Reed R&D Specialist today or check out our free online eligibility test.

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