Unusual uses

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New uses for satellite navigation are being studied by ESA even before Galileo comes into service.

One example is a personal navigator that may soon make it possible for blind people to give directions to a taxi driver.

Called 'Tormes', it consists of a computer with a Braille keyboard and satellite navigation technology. The hand held device weighs less than one kilo, so it is easy to carry.

Tormes can speak to the user, guiding them where they want to go, or telling them where they are.

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The system relies on the EGNOS technology developed by ESA. This corrects the signals from GPS satellites, so that a position can be pinpointed to within 2 metres.

Such accuracy makes a great difference for a blind person walking in a town. It enables them to know which streets they have crossed, and even which pavement they are standing on.

Sometimes satellite signals are blocked by tall buildings. ESA engineers have found a way to stop this from happening. SISNeT makes it possible to receive the signals via the Internet and a GSM wireless connection on a laptop.

Last modified 14 October 2011

Useful space