New App Allows Vision-Impaired Guests to Navigate PIT

Airports can be confusing places. Loud, sprawling and ever-changing, even the most confident people sometimes pause and look around to get their bearings.

Now imagine standing in that terminal and being blind.

A group of researchers from Carnegie Mellon University did just that while developing a smartphone app to help vision-impaired people navigate indoor spaces. In fact, one of them didn’t have to imagine at all.

Chieko Asakawa lost her vision as a child.

“She has been working in accessibility for over 30 years at IBM Research,” said fellow researcher Kris Kitani, an assistant research professor at CMU’s Robotics Institute. The two met when Asakawa brought her accessibility work to CMU, where Kitani was researching computer vision, using video and images to understand the world.