Maxim Makatchev
Faculty Advisor: Aaron Steinfeld

Title: BlindAid: Navigational Assistance for the Visually Impaired


Maxim Makatchev spent his childhood in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. He graduated from Moscow State University, with a diploma in Applied Mathematics. He continued his studies graduating as an MPhil in Mechatronics from City University of Hong Kong and then worked for several years as a researcher at the University of Pittsburgh's Learning Research and Development Center, developing natural language understanding components for dialogue-based tutoring systems. He is currently a first year Ph.D. Student at Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute and his interests include machine learning, natural language dialogue and human-robot interaction.

Project Synopsis

The goal of BlindAid is to develop navigational assistance technology for the blind or visually impaired. We seek to create a portable Electronic Travel Aid (ETA) for visually impaired users, along with the accompanying radio frequency identification (RFID) localization infrastructure used to equip buildings.

There has been little done in regards to indoor navigation in current assistive technologies, known as Electronic Orientation Aids (EOA), possibly due to high cost for instrumentation and limited capabilities. BlindAid's goal is to break down these barriers by introducing an EOA system which is relatively inexpensive for both the blind and the businesses that equip their buildings. We propose using RFID tags to set up a location-tagging infrastructure within buildings such that the blind can use an RFID equipped ETA (such as a cell phone) to determine their location as well as software that can utilize this localization data to generate vocal directions to reach a destination.