Austrian creative SME going international through cooperation

3 JULY 2014

BlindMaps is an excellent example of an Austrian creative SME going international through cooperation. The initiative was being awarded in the category ‘the next idea’ of the prestigious Prix Ars Electronica 2014, the voestalpine Art and Technology Grant.

render_blindmapsAuthor: Lucia Seel, international expert on clusters and creative industries

Voice-regulated navigation
BlindMaps should enable visually handicapped people to become mobile in an independent way in an unknown urban environment. They can use their voice to enter the desired place in the device and the recommended route is being transferred through an integrated interface into the blindman’s stick.

Cross-Innovation concept
The initial concept was developed in 2012 at the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design by Andrew Spitz (FR), Ruben van der Vleuten (NL) and Markus Schmeiduch (AT). With the support of the INTERREG IVC project Cross Innovation Markus Schmeiduch got in 2013 the possibility to participate in a 6 weeks networking and research residence mission to Berlin and Amsterdam, funded by Creative Region Linz & Upper Austria. In Berlin he met the blind and visually handicapped potential users in order to learn more about the challenges in a strong urban environment. He also got connected with institutions and companies with similar projects and challenges (Wheelmap.org / DesignResearchLab of the UDK Berlin, m4guide), aiming to use their learnings for the further development.

In Amsterdam Markus presented BlindMaps in the framework of the international Open Development Camp and in cooperation with Ruben and Andrew (who in the meantime founded the Interaction-Design Studio FROLIC in Amsterdam) integrated the learnings from Berlin in a first physical prototype (3D Printing). This was again tested in Berlin with the blind test users.

Grants for further development
Thanks to the Prix Ars Electronica award the team receives a grant of €7.500 and die opportunity to further develop the prototype in cooperation with the well-known Ars Electronica Futurelab, the research department of the Ars Electronica Linz.

BlindMaps showcases an excellent example of innovative and creative work carried out through cooperation between young creative companies in Europe, thanks to the networking facilities made available by dedicated institutions.

More information
For more information, please follow the links below:
Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design
BlindMaps
Open Development Camp
FROLIC studio
Futurelab