22nd February 2012

GeoVation funds ‘A friend in my pocket’

Viv Alexander

GeoVation recently supported RNIB’s Hackathon held on 11-12 February. The Hackathon was held in London and attended by 37 friend in my pocketdevelopers 22 technologists 8 RNIB staff and Chris, of the GeoVation team. It aimed to help the developers think about accessibility for mobile Apps and to get a better understanding of the barriers people with sight loss contend with on day to day basis.

We are excited to announce that we are awarding £1 000 funding to a ‘Friend in my pocket’ by Rupert, Sakib and Finn. The idea will use current GPS and other information, to tell you what is around you in real-time as you travel.  So you will be told when you are walking past Barclays Bank and can include street names, area etc.

The event kicked off with information on RNIB, accessibility and usability with emphasis on mobile phone and Android accessibility, understanding the barriers and pitfalls with mobile phone apps.

The developers grouped to discuss what they would be working on and the hacking commenced, with several hackers working through the night.

Other prizes awarded by RNIB and others sponsors at the Hackathon were:

Hacks at workPlace Friend won the Most Innovative New App. This app could use navigation around Points of Interest or landmarks that are tagged by speaking into the phone and recording the voice. 

VIA TV Guide won the Everyday Living category; an EPG for Android with 453 channels with ‘what’s on now’ feature with a description of the programmes and a record feature.  It could also access radio stations and be used for Virgin and Freeview. 

Money note scanner won the Independent Living category. This scanner would pick out the colour of the note to differentiate the different notes. 

RNIB App won a special judges commendation award.  Its creator, Grant Kemp, was invited to meet with RNIB project managers to discuss how to corporately support the prototype. It would pull out information from RNIB website and also use an RSS feed and browser.  This app proved the concept of making RNIB content available via a mobile app.

Speaking about the event and the Geovation winner, Chris said:

“Congratulations to “Friend in my Pocket” and the other hackathon winners. The RNIB Hackathon was a very useful event. It was great to see teams hacking solutions to real problems, as experienced and expressed by other blind and partially sighted people. I learnt a lot and gained a number of very useful insights. We look forward to seeing these hacks progress towards launch”