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Last Update: 2010-03-23   Source: Research Headlines
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HAPTIMAP targets sense(ible) solutions

Technological advances have done people a world of good, but they can also be nerve-wracking at times. Having to look at mobile device screens for information is not always a realistic or even safe thing to do, and poor eyesight can make it difficult for users to see key details. The HAPTIMAP ('Haptic, audio and visual interfaces for maps and location-based services') project, funded under the 'Information communication technologies' (ICT) Theme of the EU's Seventh Framework Programme, targets making maps and location-based services more accessible by using the body's senses including hearing, vision and touch. The project has received almost EUR 7 million in EU support.

Touch is important when it comes to screen activity © Shutterstock
Touch is important when it comes to screen activity
© Shutterstock

Consumers have access to more and more information being displayed on small screens of mobile devices. The challenge, however, is that the non-visual channels are regularly used only to give the visual a boost rather than enhance the haptic (relating to sense of touch) and auditory channels.

Experts believe improved multimodal perceptualisations (i.e. visualisation including senses other than sight) would make applications easier to access and use in actual mobile, navigational settings.

Enter the HAPTIMAP project that targets bringing digital maps and mobile location-based services to many users. Not only will the development of tools give developers the support they need to add adaptable multi-modal components to their applications, which in turn would give accessibility a boost, but problems such as the ones currently impacting this field would be tackled and new guidelines on how to extend current design practices would be recommended. The main focus of entire design process is ensuring accessibility.

Coordinated by Lund University in Sweden, HAPTIMAP kicked off in 2008 and is scheduled to end in 2012. The project partners have already published user study guidelines and are now looking for an additional commercial partner. In total, there are 13 research institutes and industry partners from 7 EU Member States.

According to the consortium, the new commercial partner would offer support in developing a location-based service that would use haptic, audio and/or visual information for the user interaction. They added that the 'service will illustrate the use of the HAPTIMAP toolkit and key HAPTIMAP concepts'. The partners would also be willing to have their new partner use the HAPTIMAP toolkit and concepts to improve a service currently in use.

A share of the effort made by the new partner will be earmarked for the development of the toolkit. This, said the HAPTIMAP partners, will guarantee solid communication between the toolkit developers and the location-based service developers. The new partner will also play a key role in the planned training and demonstration of the developed service, the HAPTIMAP partners pointed out.


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