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Silver Medal for SWPS University's Researchers at Euroinvent

Silver Medal for SWPS University's Researchers at Euroinvent

The "Friendly City" project, which aims to improve accessibility for visually impaired individuals navigating the city of Łódź, Poland, has been honored with the prestigious silver medal at the Euroinvent European Exhibition of Creativity and Innovation, held in Romania. This initiative was a collaborative effort involving researchers from the Eye Tracking Research Center at SWPS University, Professor Izabela Krejtz, Dr. Krzysztof Krejtz, and Katarzyna Wisiecka, M.A.

Enhancing access to architectural heritage

Blind and visually impaired individuals encounter various obstacles in their daily lives, making it challenging for them to navigate the city independently or fully appreciate cultural offerings. However, with the advent of modern technologies, their independence can be significantly enhanced, allowing them to experience the world through senses other than sight.

A team of researchers led by Prof. Aneta Pawłowska from the University of Lodz has developed an information and communication system designed to assist individuals with visual disabilities in navigating the heart of Łódź while gaining insights into its rich architectural heritage.

Project team:

  • Professor Aneta Pawłowska (project leader, University of Lodz)
  • Piotr Milczarski, Ph.D. University of Lodz)
  • Daria Rutkowska-Siuda, Ph.D. (University of Lodz)
  • Artur Hłobaż, Ph.D. (University of Lodz)
  • Anna Wendorff, Ph.D. (University of Lodz)
  • Anna Śniegula, M.A. (University of Lodz)
  • Adam Drozdowski, Ph.D. (University of Lodz)
  • Magdalena Milerowska, M.A. (University of Lodz)
  • Norbert Borowski, M.A. (University of Lodz)
  • Izabela Krejtz, Ph.D. / Associate Professor (SWPS University)
  • Krzysztof Krejtz, Ph.D. / Associate Professor (SWPS University)
  • Katarzyna Wisiecka, M.A. (SWPS University)
  • Professor Andrew T. Duchowski (Clemson University)

Mobile app guiding the way and depicting local monuments

The system developed by the researchers uses Bluetooth technology. Electronic beacons will be strategically placed at bus stops throughout the city center, establishing seamless communication with a mobile application installed on smartphones or smartwatches. As users approach a bus stop, they will receive precise voice-guided instructions, including the exact location of the stop, the nearest pedestrian crossing, and descriptive details about culturally significant buildings in the vicinity.

Photo of a roundabout and historical buildings in Plac Wolności in the city of Łódź, Poland
Plac Wolności, Łódź

Detailed audio descriptions of the monuments were carefully crafted based on eye tracking tests conducted among sighted individuals in Łódź. The analysis of eye movements revealed systematic differences in gaze patterns between art historians and casual observers, providing the foundation for adapting building descriptions to align with natural viewing patterns. The development process involved invaluable input from blind and visually impaired individuals at every stage, ensuring that the solution is tailored to their needs and expectations.

The mobile app will be available free of charge on Android and iOS devices. Moreover, the app will support multiple languages, including Polish, English, Ukrainian, and Spanish, benefiting not only visually impaired individuals but also tourists and seasonal workers. Through collaboration with the municipal transportation enterprise and the roads and transportation office in Łódź, the communication system will be integrated into the city's existing tourist information infrastructure. The project's scalability is promising, with plans to expand implementation throughout the Łódź agglomeration and potentially in other cities.

The "Friendly City" project is carried out by a consortium comprised of SWPS University and the University of Lodz and funded by the National Centre for Research and Development (project number: DWP/Rzeczy są dla ludzi/675/2021).

Euroinvent 2023: Celebrating innovation

Euroinvent European Exhibition of Creativity and Innovation, held in Iasi, Romania is the biggest event of its kind in Eastern Europe. Spanning from May 11 to 13, this year's edition attracted investors, researchers, and students from over 30 countries. It showcased more than 700 inventions and projects across 14 thematic categories, encompassing fields like environmental pollution control, healthcare, information technology, and sports.

For more information on the exhibition, visit the official Euroinvent website

Researchers from SWPS University contributing to the project

Portrait photo of Izabela Krejtz
Izabela Krejtz
Ph.D. / Associate Professor

Is a psychologist specializing in the eye-tracking method and ecological momentary assessments (EMA) in cognitive psychopathology. She researches determinants of daily well-being, among them the effectiveness of gratitude training. She conducts eye-tracking studies on cognitive biases in various study groups, such as hearing impaired or depressed individuals.

Portrait phPh.D. / Associate Professoroto of Krzysztof Krejtz, Ph.D.
Krzysztof Krejtz
Ph.D. / Associate Professor

Is a psychologist and Head of the Eye Tracking Research Center. His research interests focus on human-computer interaction (HCI), including social aspects of using information and communication technology, methodology of eye-tracking research, and models of visual attention, in particular in the context of multimedia learning and teaching. He is one of the precursors of social psychology of the internet in Poland.

Portrait photo of Katarzyna Wisiecka wearing eye-tracking glasses and a face mask
Katarzyna Wisiecka
M.A.

Her research interests include shared attention in collaboration, physiological synchrony, mobile oculography, and human-computer interaction.

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