室內導航技術助視障者智慧出行

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全世界都爭做智慧城市,但你可知道如何評定香港作為一個智慧城市是否「夠班」?建議大家可思考一下我城的「智慧出行」水平。它是2017年推出的《香港智慧城市藍圖》羅列的六大支柱之首:智慧出行、智慧生活、智慧環境、智慧市民、智慧政府、智慧經濟。

Mapxus相信,當我們的視障朋友毋須熟人或導盲犬帶領,毋須事先詳細計劃行程或熟習出行路線,就可像普通人一樣自由上街探索時,香港才能夠真正稱得上是一個「智慧城市」。可惜的是, 視障朋友時至今日仍會在擁擠的商場、醫院或者大學校園裡迷路,因為沒有一個「室內版地圖手機程式(App) 」可支援他們自主行動。

大抵不是太多人了解到,要創建一個智慧城市,超過8成數據是與空間維度有關的。可惜這些數據到目前為止仍處於零散狀態,既沒有統一標準,也欠缺地理標籤(geo­tagged),不能互通互用,亦難以檢索,更難以分享。

Mapxus有份參與的「逍遙行」手機App,屬於「2017行政長官社會資助計劃」之 一。此App由香港失明人協進會(協進會)牽頭進行,Mapxus全力協助室內地圖定位及導航科技。

協進會發言人於三月份遠赴美國加州出席「CSUN輔助科技年度會議」,並在會上分享科研應用成果 , 以及與 Mapxus的共同願景,就是讓受制於固定行程的失明人,享受睽違已久的探索自由,和開眼人一樣充滿生活樂趣。

「CSUN」於1985年10月首次在加州州立大學校園開講,可説是首個全方位關注失明人士及傷健人士輔助科技需要的主題會議。歷年來會議規模日益壯大,巳由學術圈子跳進科企巨擘的視野,受到蘋果 、 Google 、 微軟及Facebook等高度重視。

目前流通於失明人圈子的輔助出行App,擁有的室內地圖標示寥寥可數。協進會獲得來自香港賽馬會的支持,「逍遙行」App初步目標為開發150個室內地點,包括:熱門購物商場、政府文娛康樂設施、港鐵站 、醫院及大學等。

「逍遙行」App以外,Mapxus最新應用經驗還包括大阪JR西及阪急等企業的室內地圖及定位服務。我們擁有低成本、大批量生產室內地圖數據的技術,例如可按照蘋果室內地圖數據模組(IMDF)要求,在iOS作業平台上進行室內定位, 也可在Android機上進行同類操作。連中小企或NGO都可借助我們的室內地圖解決方案,以有限成本製作一隻專屬的導航App。

《香港智慧城市藍圖》展示三維數碼地圖發展的3個階段可視化三維地圖、應用於建築物內部的三維地圖,以及製作城市實景模型的三維地圖。這些Mapxus也可隨時上陣參與,尤其是第三階段涉及眾多持份者,由城市規劃/營運、應急、管理 、 運輸/路線/物流、室內導航、 電訊安裝,到可持纘社區,Mapxus室內地圖解決方案都可提供有效的技術支援,解決痛點,協助香港邁向頁正的智慧城市。

Do you know how to define our city’s performance of “Smart Mobility” ? It is the first on the list of the six pillars of Hong Kong Smart City Blueprint (“2017 Blueprint”) launched in 2017, the others namely Smart Living, Smart Environment, Smart People, Smart Government and Smart Economy follow.

We are bold to say that only when our visually impaired friends can explore freely wherever he wants, without a human friend or a guide dog aside, and not along any pre-planned or familiar routes, then we could claim our city a smart one.

Sadly enough, it is still not the case as our less abled friends would get lost among the crowds in a shopping mall, a hospital, or a university campus; and there is nothing like an “indoor Google Map” to lend them a hand in the point to point navigation.

Probably not many people realize that more than 80% of our smart city data has a spatial dimension, and most of them are now scattered, not standardized, not inter­operable, not geo-tagged, not searchable nor sharable.

So, would Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Smart City Walk Project, one of “The Chief Executive’s Community Project List 2017” developed jointly by the blind community and Mapxus, their technical partner, be good enough to tackle the pain points? Let’s hear how the spokesperson of the Hong Kong Blind Union says, after returning from the 35th CSUN Assistive Technology Conference in California, the United States in March this year.

The Hong Kong Blind Union’s presentation at CSUN shared its insight on how Mapxus created indoor map data and enabled application (app) development for iPhones and Androids. Also it spelled our co-shared vision and mission to return the long-deprived freedom to explore in any strange places to our blind friends.

CSUN was first opened on the campus of California State University in October 1985, and was first of its kind to focus on the all round needs of the blind. The conference has grown in size, and has been jumped from the academic circle into the eyes of the corporate giants. Today, no giant corps like Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook would ever miss the chance to show the social impact of their technology.

Obviously, the Smart City Walk app is not the first of its kind, but its predecessors are all limited only to a small number of local sites mainly in the U.S. because of their expensive developing cost. With the support of Jockey Club, the Smart City Walk app targets to cover an indoor mapping of 150 popular local sites, including shopping malls, recreational facilities, MTR stations, public hospitals and universities. But our ultimate goal is to cover most of the indoor sites in Hong Kong for every city walker, which works seamlessly with the street map navigation.

Mapxus has worked with the JR West and Hankyu in Osaka, Japan to deliver indoor map for user-friendly indoor navigation. We can create very cost-effective indoor map, for example, the Apple’s Indoor Mapping Data Format (IMDF) can enable iOS indoor positioning, similar operations is also available on the Android platform. As such, any third parties like SMEs or NGOs could leverage Mapxus solution to customize an app of their own at a limited cost.

Our indoor map solution also allows us to develop 3D Maps for Visualization, 30 Maps for unit-based Indoor Apps, and 3D Maps for City Modelling as planned by the 2017 Blueprint. We are ready to serve any potential partners from urban planning / operations, emergency management, transportation / routing / logistics, indoor navigation, telecommunication placement, and sustainable communities. And the list goes on in establishing an authentic smart city here in Hong Kong.

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