LYRASIS grant to fund exploration of wayfinding technology

The LYRASIS Catalyst Fund has granted $19,223 to a Library team for “Open LiDAR for Accessibility Community & Schema Development.” The project will utilize the Library team’s expertise to explore apps designed for 3D scanning and robotics, and take advantage of technology in the new iPad 12 Pro and iPhone 12 ProMax — the first consumer-grade LiDAR 4D scanning products to hit the market. The end goal will be to make progress toward an option for blind and low-vision patrons to create and utilize 3D scanning for wayfinding and use of public spaces.

Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) is a 3D scanning technology that can be used to capture physical data about place. LiDAR offers a significant opportunity to increase accessibility of spaces for low-vision or unsighted visitors by providing information that might otherwise be perceived visually.

Wayfinding, without sight

Indoor wayfinding remains a particularly challenging area in terms of accessibility, since technology like GPS is not sufficient for indoor use. LiDAR has been used to create maps previously, but those maps tend to exist in proprietary formats which are expensive to access. One major goal of the project is to integrate 3D scanning data into existing standards and to advocate for an accepted common schema, or data format, which would be usable by a broad range of organizations.

Partners for the project include the National Federation for the Blind and the Virginia Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired. In the academic and non-profit areas, the project will collaborate with experts from the Taskar Center for Accessible Design; VCU’s haptic feedback labs;, which currently offers a proprietary LiDAR-based wayfinding product; and the developers behind Boundri, an open source software platform for developing haptic (touch-based) applications. The Library team includes members from the central academic Library as well as the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library.

Previously, LYRASIS funds supported UVA Library work for “Digital Collecting in Times of Crisis,” and LYRASIS is currently serving in key partnership with UVA, the University of California, and OCLC to build a national archival finding aid network.

LYRASIS is a non-profit member organization serving the global landscape of academic and public libraries, scholarly research, archives, museums, and galleries. The Catalyst Fund is an award program that provides support for new ideas and innovative projects from the LYRASIS membership. It is administered by the LYRASIS Leaders Circle to expand opportunities to explore, test, refine, and collaborate on innovations with potential for community-wide impact.  

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