App and suitcase aid visually impaired people at the airport – Futurity

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App and suitcase aid visually impaired people at the airport

May 9th, 2019
Posted by Byron Spice-Carnegie Mellon

(Credit: Laura McIntosh/Flickr)


You are free to share this article under the Attribution 4.0 International license.


  • apps
  • blindness
  • disabilities
  • navigation
  • travel


Carnegie Mellon University

A smart suitcase, called BBeep, and a way-finding smartphone app can help people with visual disabilities navigate airport terminals safely and independently, report researchers.

The rolling suitcase sounds alarms when users are headed for a collision with a pedestrian, and the navigation app provides turn-by-turn audio instructions to users on how to reach a departure gate—or a restroom or a restaurant. Both proved effective in a pair of user studies that took place at Pittsburgh International Airport.

Researchers have partnered with Pittsburgh International Airport in developing new systems and technologies for enhancing traveler experiences and airport operations.

“When you get a five- or six-hour layover and you need to get something to eat or use the restrooms, that is a major hassle.”

“Despite recent efforts to improve accessibility, airport terminals remain challenging for people with visual impairments to navigate independently,” says Chieko Asakawa, a professor in Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute and an fellow at IBM Research. Airport and airline personnel are available to help them get to departure gates, [...]

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