New App Uses Smart Tags to Give Better Information and Independence to People who are Blind

Americas, ICT, News, November 16 2017

PLANO, TEXAS: Two architects with vision loss today launched WayAround, the smart assistant that gives on-demand details about everyday things for anyone with vision loss. The WayAround system uses custom smart tags plus an app for iOS or Android to provide audio information about items around the home and office.

Shirt with Phone overlay

The WayAround app gives on-demand details about everyday items by scanning with a compatible smartphone.

“As architects, our job is to provide information to contractors, municipalities, customers, and others in a way they can best use it,” said Darwin Belt, co-founder and manager of WayAround. “Most of the information in our world is presented visually, which is not very helpful for people who are blind. Our goal is to make information accessible to anyone with any degree of vision disabilities.”

The WayAround app works together with small, inexpensive smart tags that can be placed directly onto everyday items. These innovative WayTags use emerging technology and manufacturing to make them both small and versatile. They are about the size of a quarter, and are available as stickers, magnets, buttons, or clips.

Through an accessible interface on the WayAround mobile app, users add a description of any item as well as other details like laundering instructions, allergens, best-before dates, and more. Once information is added, users hold their compatible smart-phone near the WayTag to hear the information read aloud. The app is free and will be available in December 2017 for iOS and Android.

“When I first lost my vision, I felt a lot of fear and frustration just trying to understand the world around me,” said Armand Fisher, co-founder, who lost his vision over a six-week period at age 53. “WayAround provides much-needed information, but more importantly it gives independence and hope.”

The WayAround information system works for anyone with any degree of vision loss, including people who are blind, deafblind, or have color blindness, night blindness, or low vision. Though WayAround is designed for people with impaired vision, the inclusive design standard means sighted people can also benefit. WayAround products are available for pre-order and will ship when the WayAround app releases later this year.

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