CNIB awards MIPsoft with 2015 Winston Gordon Award for excellence in accessible technology

4/2/2015

John Rafferty, CNIB's president and CEO, hands the Winston Gordon Award to  Rob Nevin, MIPsoft's minister of the interior. 

Photo caption: John Rafferty, CNIB's president and CEO, hands the Winston Gordon Award to  Rob Nevin,MIPsoft's minister of the interior.​

On Wednesday, March 25 CNIB awarded the Winston Gordon Award for excellence in accessible technology to Finnish company, MIPsoft, for their GPS-style app “BlindSquare” with a breakfast ceremony at the charity’s head office in Toronto, ON.

MIPsoft has taken GPS navigation to a new level.BlindSquare – which is available for purchase through Apple’s App Store – uses GPS, your phone’s compass and FourSquare to deliver information verbally about what is around you. The app also gives users the ability to plan out an entire trip before leaving home - whether getting on a bus, hailing a cab, selecting a great place to eat or just walking down an unfamiliar street with confidence. All of this is possible from the comfort of your couch.

“I am honored to have BlindSquare recognized by CNIB and the prestige of the Winston Gordon Award,” says Ilkka Pirttimaa, CEO and lead iOS developer at MIPsoft. “BlindSquare was built to solve many problems facing blind travelers daily. It’s a bit unusual as it’s an app that is continually being refined, not from our talents alone, but from the daily experiences of thousands of travelers who have come to enjoy new information, new choices and a bigger and safer world beyond the tip of their cane.”

“I accept this award on behalf of myself and thousands of clients, hundreds of beta testers, dozens of translators supporting the localization into 25 languages. Our history has served the playground of the outdoor world, and with the help of GPS and crowd-sourced information, we guide,” says Pirttimaa. “Our future, starting today, is to break that limit and allow the navigation to continue, indoors.  With sponsorship by MIPsoft, Kontakt.io (global manufacturers of iBeacons) Acapela group (global suppliers of the premium voices used by BlindSquare) and Aftershokz (global manufacturers of bone conduction headsets) we would like to honor the award by responding with the installation of a BPS (Beacon Positioning System) inside CNIB national office in Toronto – to allow the experience of using BlindSquare to continue indoors.  This is a first in the world engagement and we’re honoured to introduce it with CNIB.”

The BPS will allow travelers to better navigate once they get inside a building through the use of the BlindSquare app. It will alert them to different areas inside a building such as a cafeteria, washroom, meeting room and other important markers they’d like to make through the use of their iCloud.

“I am truly looking forward to utilizing the indoor navigation capability of BlindSquare,” says Debbie Gillespie, CNIB’s accessibility coordinator. “It’s a natural fit for me, and opens up endless possibilities for independent navigation and wayfinding. It is a welcome addition to my technology toolkit.”

About the Winston Gordon Award

The Winston Gordon Award was established by CNIB in 1988 and is presented to an individual or group who has made significant technological advances benefiting people with vision loss through the development of a product, software or application. For more information on the Winston Gordon Award visit, cnib.ca

About MIPsoft

MIPsoft, founded in 1989, is a software company specializing in the development of smartphone applications. Based in Helsinki, Finland, it works with an international team of freelancers from the US, Germany, UK, Estonia, and Sweden, most of whom are blind or partially sighted. Close monitoring of social media channels and of relevant Email discussion lists as well as rapid development cycles allow constant product advancement. Additionally, MIPsoft has earned a reputation for outstanding customer support. For more information on BlindSquare visit, blindsquare.com.

About CNIB

CNIB is a registered charity, passionately providing community-based support, knowledge and a national voice to ensure Canadians who are blind or partially sighted have the confidence, skills and opportunities to fully participate in life. For more information, visit cnib.ca.

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