Google launches detailed voice guidance in Maps for those with visual impairments (VIDEO) | Tech/Gadgets

Google rolls out detailed voice guidance for walking trips in Maps. — Picture courtesy of Google via AFP-Relaxnews
Google rolls out detailed voice guidance for walking trips in Maps. — Picture courtesy of Google via AFP-Relaxnews

SAN FRANCISCO, Oct 11 — Google has begun rolling out a Maps feature that offers users more detailed voice navigation.

To celebrate World Sight Day yesterday, Google opted to roll out its new detailed voice guidance feature on Maps to make navigating new places with visual impairments easier and safer.

For the more than 250 million people worldwide that are either blind or have moderate-to-severe vision impairments, navigation directions consisting of simple commands like “turn left at the intersection” are insufficient. Wakana Sugiyama, a legally blind business analyst living in Tokyo, describes her day-to-day struggle of travelling to new places with nothing but meager directions to guide her: “In some cases, I’ll have a friend to join me on a trip, but in others I may decide not to take the journey at all.”

In an attempt to make trips to unknown places easier for Sugiyama and those with similar conditions, Google announced yesterday that it has begun rolling out more detailed voice guidance on Maps, a feature that was developed by people with visual impairments.

Maps can now proactively inform users if they are on the correct path, the distance until the next turn, and the direction in which they’re walking. If they stray from the initial route, Google will verbally notify them that their route is being recalculated. To improve user safety and comfort, Maps will also let a user know if they are nearing a large intersection and encourage them to cross with caution.

Consistent and automatic updates help reassure the user that they are on their way to their intended destination.

Detailed voice guidance began rolling yesterday on Android and iOS in English for US users and Japanese for Japan users. Google has plans to make the feature available in more languages for more countries in the future. The option can be turned on within the Google Maps settings. — AFP-Relaxnews

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