Developers of assistive technologies for the blind are commandeering increasingly cheap and ubiquitous personal gadgets for their research aims. Just a decade ago, the options were an array of expensive, cumbersome specialty equipment. Now the blind rely on devices that are preexisting, affordable, and often already integrated into daily life.
Tiramisu, literally meaning “pick me up” in Italian, is a crowd-sourced app that informs users of the arrival time and seating availability for buses.Tiramisu uses a smartphone’s GPS to display nearby bus stops, which can be shown on a map or in “list view” for increased accessibility. Users select a particular bus stop to find out bus arrival times, which are based on reports from current riders, historic data, or the transit service schedule. Users can also get information on bus fullness to determine if they are likely to find an empty seat or room for a mobility device. Once on the bus, users can report on bus fullness and “record” their journey using their phone’s GPS, thereby helping to inform other Tiramisu users still waiting for a bus.