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Hack built to help visually impaired catch a bus

Mon, 06/20/2016 - 10:44 -- geeta.nair

BENGALURU: An app that would help the visually impaired catch buses on their own was the highlight of a hackathon held in the city this weekend.

This was one of three hacks that 20 members of Random Hacks of Kindness (RoHK), a Bengaluru-based community, started working on Saturday. The team designing it hopes to help the visually impaired find bus stops, and identify buses that take them to their destination.

“Google Maps is only accurate up to 100 metres,” says 22-year-old engineer Yashaswi Bharadwaj, who is part of the team. “We are working on a code to help them find the exact location using a Bluetooth beacon. It should also have a text-to-voice and voice-to-text interface.”

The hack that he and his teammates come up with can be integrated with an existing source code. “We will also need data about the number of buses to a particular destination, the route numbers, and their expected time of arrival,” he said.

The second phase of the project would involve working on an image recognition system to inform users of the arrival of buses at their destination.

The theme of this edition of the hackathon — perhaps the 14th in the city and 20th in the country, according to RoHK managing trustee Chinmayi S K — was disability.

While the community gets together twice a year for two-day hackathons to work on tech-based solutions to various civic problems — including disaster management and gender-related issues — accessibility and disability have been recurring themes.

“Muthuraj, who works with the NGO Enable India, is here for most of our events,” says Chinmayi. “And we often partner with the organisation that works towards empowering the disabled.”

Yashaswi’s team is counting on the NGO’s cooperation to take the bus stop project forward. “We can’t integrate our hack with the BMTC app because we don’t have their source code,” he says. “But if Enable pitches it as one of their projects, the data will be made available.”

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