Google Maps adds voice guidance for the visually impaired

Google’s geolocation application is enriched with a detailed voice guidance function to help visually impaired people. Without taking their smartphone out of their pocket, the pedestrian benefits from very precise information about their environment. For the moment, only the United States and Japan benefit.

On October 10, World Sight Day was held to raise awareness about blindness and visual impairment. An estimated 36 million blind people around the world and 217 million people with low vision. Google took advantage of this day to announce a new feature for people with visual impairments.

The firm unveiled an update for Google Maps, with “detailed voice guidance” as a new feature. Voice guidance already exists for pedestrians, but it adds many voice comments to help visually impaired people find their way around.

A system to reassure the visually impaired

Once activated, the system warns how much time is left before turning, but also indicates in which direction the person is heading and warns of all the intersections that will have to be crossed. 

It allows the visually impaired or blind to know at all times where they are and preventable pedestrian crossings, greatly facilitating travel. The system could also serve everyone, to avoid having to take the phone out of his pocket or to keep his nose stuck on his screen.

It will be necessary to wait before being able to profit in France. The service is available for the moment only in the United States and Japan, where it is already being deployed on Android and iOS devices. However, the firm indicated that it works on the support of other languages, without giving details.