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New App for Blind People

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Uganda and Tanzania are the latest East African countries to be hit by locust swarm invasions, as the East African region faces its worst locust outbreak in decades.

While several methods have been used to combat the locusts including firing guns in Somalia, authorities say spraying of the affected areas using planes is the most effective method.

Marcus Dunn, a pilot and director at Farmland Aviation however says a lack of mobile phone signal makes it more difficult to coordinate efforts to spray and clear the locusts by aircraft.

“The challenges are really back to the ground teams because some of the areas are so remote and so marginalised that people can’t get there and getting the report back – no network,’‘ Dunn explained.

An app for the blind

In other news, an app for the visually impaired uses GPS navigation and beacon technology to help blind people avoid hazards such as large construction sites and busy intersections.

The app was developed in 2012 and tested in the Australian city of Melbourne where beacons are placed around the city for the app users. It’s a free app but the paid version allows people to use the GPS function around the world if they pay for it.

“So the app is a free app called ‘BlindSquare’ event and users would download the app on their Apple device and as they walk through the space they’ll get information sent straight through to their phone about where they’re going, landmarks that are around them and other hazards that could be around as well,’‘ John-Ross Barresi, Orientation and mobility specialist said.

Eight people in Melbourne were part of user testing, and changes to the app are ongoing subject to user feedback.

“You can walk and it will give you a small bit of information like where you are, but then you can shake the app and get additional information”

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