Advanced Wayfinding Technologies for the Blind: Abstract

The following article is about evolving technologies that hold promise for helping individuals who are blind navigate through complex environments with greater safety and efficiency. The perspective of the paper is personal, based on the author's experience as director of the Institute for Innovative Blind Navigation, and it is strongly influenced by the research and writings of popular futurists. From a broad visionary perspective, the paper examines three promising areas in which technology has the potential to revolutionize wayfinding for travelers who are blind: smart environments, smart consumers, and smart helpers.

Wayfinding Technology: A Roadmap to the Future

The profession of orientation and mobility has an extensive research base that validates the application of technologies to improve the travel skills of individuals who have vision impairments or blindness (Blasch, Wiener, Welsh, 1997, Jacobson, 1993, LaGrow & Weessies, 1994 ). In this literature, the term "wayfinding" is defined broadly as a process for navigating through environments, traveling to locations along relatively direct paths (Long & Hill, 1997). Historically, the long cane and the guide dog have been the wayfinding tools of choice for the orientation and mobility profession. As new wayfinding technologies emerge however, the cane and dog guide become part of a larger collection of potential tools for addressing the navigation needs of consumers. The choice of tools will be determined by the needs and desires of individual consumers, often with the guidance of orientation and mobility specialists.

Wayfinding technologies will rapidly evolve as computer processing chips with communications capabilities become embedded in three places: in the environment; in the tools for probing and sensing space; and in robots. As computer chips shrink in size, they become less expensive to manufacturer, and therefore more likely to be embedded into the fabric of the world just because it is so easy and inexpensive to do.

Computer chips can already be found embedded inside smart fabrics, smart clothing, and smart accessories (Gershenfeld, 1999). They can be increasingly found in signage, enabling signs to talk and store information. They can be placed on surfaces, on walls, floors, ceilings, desk tops, poles, sidewalks, and roads (Rheingold, 2002). Embedded chips are creating smart spaces, resulting in things like actuated intersections, intelligent highways, and smart ped-heads at street corners. The tiny chips are even being surgically implanted inside living beings, making bodies the carriers of embedded intelligence. The future will therefore be strongly influenced by the evolution and implantation of these tiny computer processing systems. Wayfinding technologies will rapidly evolve as this revolution unfolds.

A key understanding is that technology is increasing exponentially. This incredible rate of change was discovered and elaborated by two futurists, Gordon Moore and Raymond Kurzweil. Both men are the authors of "technology laws."

"Moore's Law" refers to the predictions made by Intel Corporation founder Dr. Gordon Moore. The law was first published in an article in the April 19, 1965 issue of the American journal Electronics entitled "Cramming more components on to integrated circuits." In the June 3, 2000 issue of Forbes magazine, in an article called "Exponential Shock," Rich Stargaards explained the Law. He wrote "Unless you've been asleep for 20 years, you understand Moore's Law. Or think you do. It works like this: The number of transistors that chip makers can squeeze onto a silicon chip doubles every 18 months. The chip industry has pulled off this trick, like clockwork, for 41 years. Another 10 years looks likely."

Dr. Moore studied the development of computer chip technology over several years and discovered the pattern. It showed that functionally, every 12 to 18 months, scientists produced computer chips that were twice as capable as the last generation; each new generation of computer processor was twice as fast, stored twice as much information, yet cost the same or less than previous chips.

Futurist and inventor Raymond Kurzweil studied Moore's findings and discovered that exponential doubling of processing power had been going on for many generations before computer chips were invented. Kurzweil predicted that after we had reached the physical limits for making computer chips we would discover new technologies that would continue the doubling of processing power. Kurzweil predicted that the next breakthrough in computing power, the next paradigm shift that would continue the exponential growth rate would be three-dimensional molecular computing. On April 15, 2003, Dr. Kurzweil summarized his predictions before Congress in an address called "The Societal Implications of Nanotechnology."

The revolutionary idea within Moore's and Kurzweil's observations is that the creative power of individuals or small groups is increasing at an incredible (and predictable) rate. This is a time in history, therefore, when it is no longer necessary to sit on the sidelines and wait for technologies to arrive. It is becoming increasingly possible to create the futures that can be envisioned. The task involves envisioning a high tech future and then figuring out how to fit the puzzle pieces together to make the best possible outcome for wayfinding.

Also, given the steady march of Moore's and Kurzweil's Laws, it follows that every eighteen months (roughly) a new set of technological innovations emerge with the potential to improve wayfinding tools (the table fills up with more and better puzzle pieces). This scenario has been playing out for near point computational tools for the blind consumer for many years; there has been a steady evolution of near point tools, like refreshable Braille, Braille computers, and talking screen readers. Only recently has technology evolved with enough computational power to create wayfinding tools.

Smart Environments and the Need for Environmental Literacy

Buildings and pathways were historically created to accommodate the sense of vision and are therefore not inherently "blindness friendly." The environment was filled with lines and symbols, and with non-talking signage to tell sighted people what to do. The environment was not constructed to tell blind people what to do; the environment tells the sighted about their options, but not the blind traveler (Kish, 2002). The potential of smart spaces has changed this situation. Now the environment can be make blindness friendly. Now environments can tell blind travelers about their options.

The environment could be constructed to improve blind wayfinding by placing custom chips in the spaces that need modification. For example, at street intersections, smart "wayfinding chips" could be designed to sense the presence of a blind traveler, decide what information to transmit or offer, and communicate this information to the consumer. A network of wayfinding chips could provide access to location based knowledge; activate talking signage; and could connect to the internet. The chips could be embedded anywhere they seem to be needed, in street signs, store logos, on address numbers, on buildings, on floor surfaces, on directional arrows, etc.

Some spaces need little management, others are more problematic and require more management. Familiar areas, like the inside of a person's house, or a familiar work space don't necessarily need intervention because navigation is usually simple and safe. Other areas however, like open spaces (parks, playgrounds, parking lots, gas stations, etc.), street intersections, complex indoor spaces like airports and meg a malls, and while traveling inside of vehicles (where there is no feedback about what is being passed nor of the vehicles position in the geography) are harder to comprehend or negotiate for the individual who is blind, and therefore require greater spatial management.

Location-based technologies are helping to create smart spaces. Location-based knowledge has two components; a (usually wireless) coordinate system for labeling longitude and latitude, and access to managed geographical databases, some filled with map and landmark details. The result of these technologies is that every spot on earth has the potential to get progressively smarter; to increasingly gain "knowledge about itself." This knowledge will get richer as institutions continually add details to the geographical databases. The institutions that are assembling databases about locations have spawned a new industry to provide consumers with location-based services (LBS). These services will be accessed by environmentally literate persons; ie. those people who know how to use the technologies to gather knowledge about spatial location and the services associated with these locations. Environmental literacy may turn out to be as important as academic literacy.

The phrase "environmental literacy" was carefully selected to define this category because it draws attention to accessibility rights. It is well accepted in the culture of North America that people who are blind have a right to be literate. There is an institutional framework, backed up by the legal system, that insures the right to access media based (and academic) information. There is a mandate, legal and accepted, to modify all types of media (video, the internet, television, print) so that individuals who are blind can access the culture's knowledge base. Technologies that assist with these mandates are often paid for by government programs. Research and development is encouraged, supported, and financially supplemented. A similar set of legal and cultural mandates may need to evolve to support the development of environmental literacy.

The blindness community will not have to restructure the environment to take advantage of smart spaces. The sighted world is rapidly mixing intelligence into literally everything; buildings and pathways included. At IBM's Alamden Research Laboratory, scientists have come up with an idea called WorldBoard, an ambitious effort to make the entire planet into a geo-spatial bulletin board; the embedding of information in it's context. Here is how Jim Spohrer from IBM explains WorldBoard:

"What if we could put information in places? ...what if we could associate information with a place and perceive the information as if it were really there? WorldBoard is a vision of doing just that on a planetary scale and as a natural part of everyday life. For example, imagine being able to enter an airport and see a virtual red carpet leading you right to your gate, look at the ground and see property lines or underground cables, walk along a nature trail and see virtual signs near plants and rocks." (Spohrer, 1996)

Now imagine that the red carpet leading to the airport gate had communication capability. Imagine that all this virtual signage had the ability to talk and to transmit it's knowledge to receivers. This is the new world of blind navigation, the future that blind consumers must face and embrace. This is a component of environmental literacy that must be accessible to blind consumers.

Communications systems that have the ability to talk will be built into technologies for the sighted for two reasons: because it is so cheap to include this feature (more so every year following Moore's Law); and because sophisticated consumers are always on the go, in vehicles, jogging, commuting, etc. People on the move require that messages be read to them while they are doing other things (multitasking). So, the blindness community will not have to create their own technologies (puzzle pieces). They will "simply" have to choose and assemble systems with speech capability from available technologies on the mass market. Adaptations will always be necessary, but the main stream will provide the basic technologies for talking communications units.

If environments contain embedded knowledge and have communications capability, then there has to be a system that is carried by the blind consumer that gathers the embedded information and makes it accessible. The sighted world is moving rapidly toward the concept of wearable computing, embedding invisible chips into the fabric of clothing and accessories (buttons, belts, earrings, etc.). For the blind consumer, wearable systems might have to be modified to create a special kind of processing system ("blind suit"), making sophisticated blind travelers into "smart consumers." As indicated above, this "blind cybersuit" may not have to be created or invented, it might just be the assemblage of available technologies.

Smart Consumers: The Age of the Cyborg

Not only are environments getting smarter, but so too are the tools that consumers use to probe the world around them. These tools are held in the hand, worn in head gear, or are in some way incorporated on (or in) the human body. When computer processing intelligence is embedded in these tools, they become part of the wearable computing revolution.

This is the age of the cyborg (Mann & Neidzviechi, 2001). A cyborg is a human being who incorporates technology on or in the body. This definition makes most everyone on the planet a cyborg (clothing is a technology). Contact lenses, glasses, hearing aids, heart pacemakers, insulin pumps, all these and much more make human beings into cyborgs. What makes this the "age of the cyborg" is the acceleration in the varieties and complexities of the intelligent technologies that are now being embedded on and in the human body. The bionic people who were last centuries science fiction, are this centuries reality; this is the age of "smart" consumers.

Each generation is comfortable with the cyborgs of their culture. People who wear contact lenses on their eyeballs, for example, are not considered weird. At the same time, every generation is also cautious or rejecting of the new cyborgs of emerging generations. The horse and buggy generation did not feel at home with the motorized world of the emerging generations. The generation that is completely at home jogging around in Nike shoes is a little uncomfortable with the idea of electronic clothing. The generation that is at home ingesting vitamins, headache medicines, and diet pills, is uneasy when it comes to implanting computer chips in the head. The next generation of cyborg development will not go away nor will the fast pace of change dissolve. The question facing the blindness field is "What kind of cyborg will enable seamless blind navigation?" What kind of modules should be "attached" to the body network that will enhance blind wayfinding? Some parts of the answer to these questions are already understood.

Existing wayfinding technologies, like Kaspa, the Sonic Pathfinder, and the vOICe, are really varieties of wearable computers. They require head mounts for cameras, ultrasonics, and computer units. Electronics that make up hand held units like the Miniguide, and Sound Flash, could be made into wearable modular elements of a larger wearable "blind suit." Location-based technologies require computer processors, GPS receivers, and communications modules that must be carried or worn, and are therefore a sub-classification of wearable computing. Talking signs must be activated and speech access provided. Again, talking signs require wearable computing; the hand held units can be shrunk to wearable modules.

One of the most powerful capabilities of computer chips is that they can be networked; they can be designed to communicate and influence each other independently of any human intervention. So, smart chips on board cars could be designed to communicate with smart spaces, like intersections. Smart consumers, wearing embedded computers could communicate with smart cars and smart intersections. Internal chips, embedded inside of bodies could be networked with wearable systems or with smart environments. A "blind wayfinding suit" could network with the smart environment, with smart traffic lights, smart ped-heads, smart signs, smart vehicles, smart pathways, smart classrooms, etc. Over time, all the components of these technologies will shrink in size, get less expensive, and will get smarter. The notion of a "blind cyborg," equipped for seamless wayfinding is not science fiction.

As computer processing systems become increasingly embedded in the eyes, in the primary vision centers, and eventually throughout the brain in vision processing networks, the blindness community will be faced with new kinds of cyborgs. There will be a combination of biotechnology (tissue repair, cloning, recombinant DNA) applications to brain damage that will be overlaid with specialized computer processing modules. External networks will be interfaced with internal networks.These new approaches will provide new kinds of perception never before seen in rehabilitation. People with artificial vision systems will see in ways never before experienced by human beings. These new bionic people could just as easily be given enhanced digital senses that not only compensate for loses, but provide for new and more powerful bionic senses (superhuman capabilities). At this early stage of the cyborg revolution however, rehabilitation is faced not with the six million dollar bionic man, but with individuals who have gone from being totally blind to severely visually impaired, and with new kinds of vision impairments.

Computer chips embedded into sensors have caused another kind of revolution that directly impacts wayfinding technologies. Tools that sense, that see, hear, feel, and smell are being combined with microprocessors. This means that tools like computer vision systems, face recognition technology, cameras, listening devices, artificial noses, and skin-like surfaces are all following Moore's Law, getting smarter, cheaper and smaller every 18 months. This is causing a robotics revolution, making any object into a surveillance tool, or into a system that augments human perception. These new "smart things with senses" can be designed as "smart helpers" for blind consumers.

Smart Helpers: The Coming of the Robots

Standing inside smart environments, alongside smart consumers, are a strange collection of emerging robotic creatures, call them "smart helpers." These robotic creatures can become wayfinding toys for blind children, helping companions for adults who have travel disabilities, and smart vehicles. Any object that contains intelligence, sensory systems, and communications capabilities can become a "smart helper," but the systems that can independently move about the environment constitute a special class of technology with potential to be wayfinding tools.

The same set of modular applications can be attached to any substrate. For example, GPS modules can be placed in vehicles, embedded in features of the environment, included as part of wearable computing suits, or be incorporated as add-ons to robots. Additional modules can be added to any substrate. A list of potential wayfinding modules might include units for: face and pattern recognition, sensory enhancement and filtering, navigation systems with obstacle detection and avoidance, memory units that record images and sounds, communications networks (cell phones, email systems, video conferencing), speech recognition systems, expressive speech units, and so on. Each of these modular areas follow Moore's Law, so for example, face recognition modules will get smaller, cheaper, and more powerful on a one to two year cycle. Moore's Law is forcing the use of modules; so the old ones can be unplugged from the substrate (vehicle, wearable suit, robot) and replaced with the latest and greatest.

Applying this understanding to digital toys results in ever smarter "robots for kids." Giving dolls and toy animals life-like qualities is the future. Sony's robotic dog Aibo is an example of a toy that could be modified to serve the needs of blind children. Aibo could theoretically be programmed and equipped with any of the specialized processing modules mentioned above. Aibo could be equipped, for example, with modules that encourage play activities designed to further the developmental progress of blind children. Aibo could play "hide and seek," encouraging the development of sound localization, as well as encouraging movement toward landmarks. Aibo could sing kids songs, teach travel routes through a house, warn about steps or stoves, "read" kids books, or use wayfinding language (landmark, masking sound, left, right, etc.).

The most recent generation of Aibo can walk, run, chase a ball, wag it's tail, respond to 75 voice commands, read internet messages, express emotions, display instincts (play, search, hunger, sleep), "see" in real time (color, face recognition under development), take pictures through a hidden nose camera and store them, recognize it's own name (and it's owners name), plug itself in when it needs recharging, and respond to other Aibos. The robotic dog has built-in infrared distance receptors and sensors for temperature, vibration, and acceleration. Sony is aware of the potential use of Aibo as a tool for the blind, but cautions that the technology is not powerful enough to be used at the moment as a fully developed guide system for blind navigation. As a toy for blind children however, the dog has capabilities that can be exploited now.

Many mobility specialists (and travel trainers) work with navigationally impaired individuals, a population of individuals who have vision anomalies that fall outside the definition of "vision impairment," and/or who have damage to navigation centers in the brain (with no vision problems). These clients often have associated severe cognitive, multi-sensory, and/or physical impairments. Autistic children, for example, sometimes relate better to machines than to people, and they have vision anomalies like failure to recognize faces, that fall outside the standard definition of vision impairment. This population may benefit from robotics in ways that are nor relevant to blindness, but which nevertheless fall within the professional responsibilities of the mobility specialist.

Although current robots are not ready to be prime time wayfinding assistants for sophisticated blind travelers, they could be ready for internships with cognitively impaired or multiply impaired individuals (people with navigational disabilities). Honda's Asimo humanoid robot (an acronym for "Advanced Step in Innovation Mobility") can already turn lights off and on, walk up and down steps, and navigate through indoor spaces. In the winter of 2003, Asimo began its television career by appearing in Honda commercials. It is not a far stretch to envision a robot helper bringing in the newspaper, pouring coffee, pushing a wheelchair, and vacuuming the rug. Asimo costs about as much as a sophisticated wheelchair.

It will be awhile before automobiles drive themselves around following voice commands, or before they can be programmed to follow routes. It's a major stretch (bordering on irresponsible speculation) to suggest that blind individuals will drive on the nations highways anytime soon. Automobiles, however, are becoming more autonomous, more robotic, progressing at a pace paralleling Moore's law. Cars are starting to see, to sense, to self diagnose, to employ collision avoidance systems and to access location based services. There are two avenues where automotive technology could be applied to other vehicles with potential to improve blind navigation: wheelchair travel; and small scooter mobility.

Wheelchair sophistication has steadily improved following Moore's Law. Modern power carts are stable, have long lasting batteries, and they can be equipped with control switches to allow navigation using head movements, blow switches, even eye movements. There is no reason that the standard modules listed above can't be incorporated into smart wheelchairs (smart wheelchairs website) specially designed for people who are blind. Luxury cars can be built, and so can luxury wheelchairs. GPS equipped cars are becoming standard, and so could GPS equipped wheelchairs. Wheelchairs can be equipped with signage activators, obstacle detectors, radar warning systems, and so on, in effect creating "blindness specific" power vehicles. The same modules and strategies can be used to manufacture scooters, bikes, and "toy" cars.

Convergence: The Blending of Technologies

The long cane is a low tech solution to blind navigation. It will not disappear as wave after wave of new wayfinding tools emerge. High technology changes do not do away with low tech solutions that work. The pencil and the ink pen have not been supplanted by the word processor. Radio did not disappear when television came along. Televisions did not go away when the internet arrived. Braille did not disappear even though talking machines were invented. Low technologies survive the arrival of more sophisticated tools, but they become not the heart of professions (as the cane once was), they drop into the lower tech category and they become part of a growing army of tools.

Another consequence of embedding intelligence into objects is that low tech tends to merge with high tech. For mobility specialists this means that the cane has the potential to take on more and more intelligence over time. The Batcane, developed by Cambridge Consultants is an example of this merging of high tech with low. Dog guides have been carrying embedded chips for several years. These chips will get smarter and smarter. The dog or the cane could carry GPS units, obstacle detectors, or chip systems that interact with smart intersections.

The cell phone is blending with various technologies including GPS systems, web and email access, face recognition digital cameras, walkie talkies, palm computing, and environmental activation. The "phone" is becoming a physical remote for turning on and off systems in the environment. As technology moves forward, all the components will shrink in size and get less expensive, so the "phone" will become part of wearable processing systems. Modifications in this evolving set of technologies could (and eventually will) be adapted for blind wayfinding.

Perspective of the Institute for Innovative Blind Navigation (

In the summer of 2001, the Institute for Innovative Blind Navigation (IIBN) received funding from NEC Foundation of America to bring the issue of "Advances in Wayfinding Technology" to the blindness community. IIBN's goal was to accelerate and intensify the debate about these new high-tech tools. During the past two years, IIBN offered regional wayfinding seminars (supported by funding from NEC Foundation of America) to introduce the issues to professionals and consumers. An outline for understanding and discussing emerging navigation technologies evolved from these seminars, as did the following set of recommendations. These "recommendations" are global issues that seem to follow from the necessity to adjust to accelerating change; they are potential guidelines for future discussion and consideration.

There is evidence that the exponential pace of technological progress will not only continue, but that the speed of change will accelerate (Website: Singularitywatch). There is no ignoring this trend. It impacts individuals, professions, institutions, whole societies, the entire planet. The profession of orientation and mobility and blind consumers are facing a revolution in wayfinding technology that is only going to get more complicated as time races forward. Changes of this magnitude require huge changes in thought; there must be a rethinking of the infrastructure of blind rehabilitation to accommodate emerging opportunities. Below are the global issues identified by IIBN as key to addressing exponential change as it impacts the field of blind rehabilitation.

Recommendation One: Train more specialists.

Technology generates specialists. The mobility instructor trained to teach cane travel and orientation skills cannot be eighty different kinds of expert. New kinds of specialists must be trained. Technology also eliminates more jobs than it creates (Rifkin, 1995). The jobs that are lost are on the low tech, low skill levels. For orientation and mobility, the implication is that the "low tech" job of teaching cane skills or sighted guide might dwindle, while the jobs requiring a high degree of mastery over sophisticated wayfinding technologies would grow.

Recommendation Two: Build or repair the infrastructure: create new institutions or restructure traditional institutions.

Revolutionary technologies undermine "old" institutional structures and demand that new institutions be created. In the field of blind rehabilitation, new kinds of institutions must therefore be created, and/or existing ones restructured. This is an opportunity for new programs to develop in the universities, an opportunity for new research and development labs to be created, an opportunity for inventors to create and market new tools, and an opportunity for established leaders in the field to reinvent themselves, their disciplines, and their organizations.

Recommendation Three: Form partnerships.

Institutions, like individuals, cannot cope with the flood of new technologies. The only way for complex, constantly evolving technologies to be embraced is through massive cooperation. This has not been the way of the world in the blindness field (nor in most other fields). Huge changes in technology require huge changes in thought. Huge changes in thought and understanding require huge changes in responsibility and focus. The potential of technology is an excellent platform around which to begin a new golden age of cooperation.

Consumer groups can play an important role in future technology development for wayfinding. An example of current efforts is the work of the National Federation of the Blind. NFB recognized the contribution of Raymond Kurzweil many years ago, and understood the implications of accelerating technological change. NFB, ACB, and the blind veterans groups can (and should) lead the way as technology moves forward.

Recommendation Four: Create a Global Strategy to Address Continual Advances in Wayfinding Technologies

The blindness community must come together to hold an extended dialogue about the implications of accelerating technology. Focus groups and action strategies must be established that address the totality of the challenge. Also, biennial international conferences should be created solely to address advances in wayfinding technology. Further, technology training camps should be created to establish a national infrastructure for teaching the use of wayfinding technologies as an intermediate solution, while existing institutions adjust to the digital age.

Recommendation Five: Think "Process and Platforms," not Products

Technology "products" are headed for obsolescence in 18 months, probably less. Whatever is created must be understood to be part of a long range plan with built in upgrades coming every one to two years. We must think in terms of "technology platforms" in the process of continual evolution. A service model, rather than a business model might be a better way to address this challenge. A service model sells memberships in a technologfy platform; members "ride the wave" of progress. A business model sells products that go obsolete very fast.

Recommendation Six: Custom design technologies to the individual

It is now possible to analyze and prescribe technology that is specific to individual needs. It is the steady rise in computing power that enables this, as well as the drop in prices for the component parts of any tool. The profession of orientation and mobility could embrace more of a medical model that includes a set of diagnostic strategies combined with a collection of technology modules that could be assembled to address the wayfinding needs of clients.


Blasch, B. B., Wiener, W.R., & Welsh, R. G. (Eds). (1997). Foundations of orientation and mobility (2nd ed.). New York: AFB Press.

Cairncross, F. The death of distance 2.0 Harvard Business School Press.

Gershenfeld, N. (1999). When things start to think. New York: Press Henry Holt and Company.

Jacobson, W. (1993). The art and science of teaching orientation and mobility to persons with visual impairments. AFB press.

Kargaard, R. (June 3, 2000). Exponential Shock. Forbes magazine.

Kish, D (2003). Presentation at the November, 2002 Southeast Regional Wayfinding Technology Conference; personal correspondance. Dan Kish is the Director of World Access for the Blind. Worldaccessfortheblind Website:

LaGrow, S. & Weessies, M. (1994). Orientation and mobility: techniques for independence. AFB press.

Long, R. & Hill, E. (1997). Establishing and maintaining orientation for mobility. In Blasch, B. B., Wiener, W.R., & Welsh, R. G. (Eds). Foundations of orientation and mobility (2nd ed.). (p. 39). New York: AFB Press.

Mann, S. & Neidzviechi, H. (2001). Cyborg: digital destiny and human possibility in the age of the wearable computer. Canada: Doubleday.

Moore, G. (April 19, 1965). Cramming more components on to integrated circuits. Electronics journal.

Rheingold, H. (2002). The era of sentient things. In H. Rheingold, Smart Mobs (pp. 83-112). Perseus Press.

Spohrer, J. (1996). Information in places. IBM Systems Journal, 38, 4

Websites Relevant to Topics Discussed in the Article

Broad sites that give an overview of exponential change and the consequences

Kurzweil, R. (1990). The Age of intelligent machines. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press.

Kurzweil, R. (1999). The age of spiritual machines: when computers exceed human intelligence, Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 1999

Toffler, A. (1970). Future shock. New York: Bantam Books.

Toffler, A. (1980). The third wave: the classic study of tomorrow.New York: Bantam Books.

Toffler, A., & Toffler H. (1990). Power shift: knowledge, wealth and violence at the edge of the 21st century. New York: Bantam Books.

Rheingold, H. (2002). Smart Mobs. Perseus Press.

Rifkin, J. (1995). The End of Work: The decline of the global labor force and the dawn of the post-market era. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons.

Saffo P. Website: (1997):

Supporting the development of smart highways and intersections

Government document Website: (1991) High-tech highways: Intelligent transportation systems and policy: the congress of the United States congressional budget office.

Bentzen, B. & Tabor, L. Website: (1998). United States Access Board Document: Website:

Supporting Dr. Kurzweil's perspective on accelerating technology and it's impact

Kurzweil, R. Website: (2001). The law of accelerating returns: URL:

Kurzweil, R. Website: (April 15, 2002). (,3959,9928,00.asp).

Kurzweil, R. Website: (April 15, 2003). Presentation to United States Congress: The societal implications of nanotechnology.

Singularitywatch Website:

Website about location based services

Whereonearth Website:

Senderogroup Webpage:

Websites that discuss robotics

Aibo Website:

Asimo Website:

Chrysler Website:

Gavrila Website:

IEEC Website:

Maya Software Website:

Smart wheelchairs Website:

Websites that documenting the blending of technologies into handheld units:

Internetnews Website:

Mobile Commerce Website: Website: (Internet access and email) Website (Nextel walkie talkies):,4057,6496793%255E15320,00.html

PCworld Website:,aid,104090,00.asp

Websites about specific wayfinding technologies

Batcane Website:

Miniguide Website:

Perceptual Alternatives Website: (Sonic Pathfinder)

Sonicvision Website: (Kaspa)

Seeingwithsound Website: (The vOICe)

Worldaccessfortheblind Website: Experimental echolocation technology: Sound Flash.

Supporting the merging of communications technologies with computer processors: Global Telematics webpage:

Website about IBM's Worldboard initiative: Worldboard website:

Supporting the development of talking signs: Talking Signs Corporation Website: URL

Supporting the embedding of computer chips in the body: Second Sight Website:

Website discussing wearable computing: Wearables Central Website: wearable computing links and news archive (April 28, 2003). URL