Shawn Kirkpatrick

Go blindly where everyone sighted has gone before.

Loadstone GPS for the Blind for Nokia

Global Positioning Systems (GPS) have become very popular in the past few years, enabling users to obtain directional and routing information via a visual interface. Accessible models on the market are notoriously bulky and expensive. In 2004, a friend approached me with an idea for a portable and accessible navigation system to provide a low-cost solution to persons with vision impairment. The objective was to use a cell phone to run the GPS program and a receiver to connect to the GPS satellites.

At this point, neither of us had ever embarked on such a venture. I used a cell phone regularly but had no indepth knowledge of how the actual hardware worked. Even the operating system on which the equipment ran was new to me. In order to ensure the reliability of the product, I improved my knowledge of the Symbian operating system I planned to use, as well as my knowledge of GPS and Nokia hardware.
This project presented many challenges along the way. I had never seen a Nokia smart phone or a GPS receiver before and I had never worked with the Symbian operating system. Storing information about the world on a cell phone and presenting it in a way that made sense was also far more difficult than first thought.
My knowledge of computer programming and ability to learn new computer languages and concepts was especially useful for this project.
Since the launch of the first release of Loadstone, I have managed continuous implementation of program features and fixes to ensure client satisfaction. Currently, I provide technical assistance to users around the world through mailing lists. Loadstone has secured the support and donations of international sponsors and users are constantly using Loadstone on new adventures, notably sailing and hiking.

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