Making Pedestrian Travel Easier

May 13, 2010

Talking Signs technology is an infrared wireless communications system that provides remote directional human voice messages that make confident, independent travel possible for vision impaired and print-handicapped individuals. 

The technology was pioneered and developed at Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute, Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center in San Francisco, California.

The system consists of short audio signals sent by invisible infrared light beams from permanently installed transmitters to a hand-held receiver that decodes the signal and delivers the voice message through its speaker or headset. The signals are directional, and the beam width and distance can be adjusted. The system works effectively in both interior and exterior applications.

Talking Signs may be used wherever landmark identification and wayfinding assisstance are needed. To use a Talking Signs system, the user scans the environment with the hand-held receiver. As individual signals are encountered, the user hears the messages. For example, upon entering a lobby, one might detect “information desk” when pointing the receiver directly ahead, “public telephones” when pointing to the right and “stairs to the second floor” when pointing to the left.

Messages are unique and short, simple and straightforward. The messages repeat, continuously identifying key features in the environment.

To learn more, visit Talking Signs at