Clew

Last modified
Saturday, February 2, 2019
Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team
Category

Description of App

Clew is an AR indoor navigation app designed for visually impaired users to help them retrace their steps in unfamiliar environments.

Version

1.0.3

Free or Paid

Free

Apple Watch Support

No

Device(s) App Was Tested On

iPhone

iOS Version

12.1.3

Accessibility Comments

Very accessible and easy to use.

VoiceOver Performance

VoiceOver reads all page elements.

Button Labeling

All buttons are clearly labeled.

Usability

The app is fully accessible with VoiceOver and is easy to navigate and use.

Other Comments

Clew is a very simple app that doesn't have much in the way of an interface. It is very straight forward to use. Would love to see the ability to save routes that I've created. Right now, it only gives you the option to create a route to Point B and then gives you the directions back to Point A. Essentially this is a disposable one time only route creation. This has potential and something I can use in different situations.

This was taken from the developer's site and found that it may answer some of your questions:

"Clew works best in well-lit areas with distinct visual features and few moving objects like crowds and cars. Although Clew can be used outdoors, it is
not as accurate in open areas and intense sunlight. Clew works optimally indoors over relatively short distances."

There is an email address that you can use to contact the developer if you have any questions or suggestions for them on the developer site.

Recommendations

3 people have recommended this app

Most recently recommended by Casey 1 year 5 months ago

Options

Comments

Submitted by Paige on Saturday, February 2, 2019

Do you need 3D touch or anything to use this app? I really want to try it but I have an SE

Submitted by Dave82 on Saturday, February 2, 2019

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

No, you don’t need 3D Touch. It just uses the camera and possibly the accelerometer. Older devices may not perform as well as new ones, but it’s hard to say.

Submitted by Sasha Stride on Sunday, February 3, 2019

This is a really useful utility. I even tried it in my three room apartment to see if it works but I have tried it on larger places too. Just wanted to test. It is easy to use.

Submitted by Sasha Stride on Sunday, February 3, 2019

I have an SE too and it works really great.

Submitted by mority on Sunday, February 3, 2019

The app doesn't work for me at all, I tried to retrace multiple routes now but everytime the app failed.

I even tryed it on the same level on my way to the bathrooom, out of my living room, two steps forward, turn right, about 7 steps forward, right again and straight to the door.
The app told me something about straight for 300 feed and up the stairs when I wanted to retrace.
I tried about 5 routes, and none worked.

Submitted by Paul Ruvolo on Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Hi Everyone,

First of all, thank you so much for your interest and comments on Clew. I am the head of the group that developed this app, and the folks in my group and I really appreciate this useful feedback. We are working hard to improve the app. The feedback given in this thread and in other places is exactly what we need to make this happen. Additionally, we are committed to working with people who are blind and visually impaired to improve the app. In fact, several of the developers of the app are legally blind.

What we are hearing from the community feedback is the following:
(1) We need better in app documentation.
(2) Several people would like translations of the app to other languages.
(3) Folks want to improve the apps performance in outdoor settings. This can be done through incorporating GPS.
(4) The options are currently difficult to find (they are available through the settings menu of the phone, rather than through the app itself).
(5) The most common thing we've heard is that people want to be able to save routes. This is exactly the thing we have been working on over the last several months. Unfortunately, it's actually quite difficult to implement this feature (I'm happy to provide more details on this if folks are interested). I just want the community to know that it's not something that is easy to add.

For more context, I am a college professor at Olin College of Engineering. Olin is a small, undergraduate-only engineering school based in the suburbs near Boston. I've been working on various concepts for indoor mobility using augmented reality technology for the last several years. This is the first app that my group has managed to release.

Please keep the feedback coming. We will do everything we can to act on it and deliver a great app experience!

Additionally, if you have been having difficulty getting the app to work in its present form, I'd love to do a phone call to see if we can uncover the reason any difficulties you might be having. We realize we have a long way to go in terms of documentation and in-app help.

Best wishes to all,
Paul Ruvolo

Submitted by LaBoheme on Tuesday, February 12, 2019

“(5) The most common thing we've heard is that people want to be able to save routes. This
s exactly the thing we have been working on over the last several months. Unfortunately,
t's actually quite difficult to implement"

analyzing how this app works, i can imagine the difficulty, but there is one thing we can do to make it much more useful: simply save the last recorded route and make it bidirectional.

when one manage to create a route, it should be possible to save the route until a new route is created again. most importantly, the route should be bidirectional. if i am not totally wrong about how this app works, this should be possible.

a simple example: if i create a route from the front door to the back door, i should be able to navigate not only from the back door back to the front door, i should be able to navigate from the front door to the back door, depending on my starting point.

Submitted by Paul Ruvolo on Friday, April 12, 2019

Hi Folks,

Based on feedback from many early adopters of Clew (thank you to all!), we are pleased to announce the release of a beta version of Clew that incorporates many of the suggestions we’ve heard from the community.

The short version of this notice is that you can download a beta version of Clew through Apple’s Test Flight using the link below. Makes sure to read the new help file as a number of things about Clew have changed significantly (or keep reading). Here is the link: https://testflight.apple.com/join/yjuFusW2 to the beta.

Here are the major changes:

(1) By far the most requested feature for Clew is route saving. Clew now supports saving routes. Detailed information on how to save routes is given through the in-app “Help” menu. At a high-level, to save a route you must first anchor your route by positioning your phone in a location and orientation that you can return to at a later time (unassisted) and then activating the “Create Landmark” button. One can think of this position as a “landmark” in much the same way as landmarks are thought of in orientation and mobility courses. It is a place that helps you orient and position yourself within an environment. Good choices for landmarks are vertical surfaces that are easy to find such as door frames, walls, or windows.

To reload the route, you can return to this same location, position your phone as you did when you created the route, and the app will start providing feedback. Many times when navigating along a route, the app will be able to further refine your alignment to the saved route by registering the current environment’s visual features to those that it saw when the route was initially recorded. Since this automatic registration does not happen every time, it is necessary to use a landmark in addition to automatic alignment.

(2) Support for bi-directional routes. Initial versions of Clew only allowed for navigating your route in reverse. Many folks requested the ability to navigate the route in the forward or reverse direction. Support for this has been added. Importantly, we have observed that route guidance is actually more accurate in the forward direction than the reverse direction (especially when loading saved routes).

(3) Enhancements for users with low vision. We have enlarged text and button sizes in many parts of the UI (although, many more changes are in the works to do a better job of supporting users with low vision.). We have also allowed for speech feedback that is not tied to VoiceOver. This means that if you have enabled the voice feedback option, the app will speak directions to you even if you are not using VoiceOver.

(4) Easier to use pause and create landmark procedure. When pausing a route in previous versions of Clew, the user was instructed to place the phone against a vertical surface with the camera facing out and the screen facing the wall. In this configuration the user confirmed that the phone was in the correct position using the volume button (since the screen is not physically accessible in this configuration). We have changed this procedure. Now, alignment is done by pressing the top edge of the phone flush with the vertical surface and the screen facing up. In this configuration, the phone’s position can be confirmed with an onscreen button (which is much more standard). We have also found that this alignment procedure seems to be a bit more accurate than the previous one and is certainly easier to do and comes with less risk of dropping one’s phone.

(5) Sound feedback volume is now tied to the phone’s volume level even if the mute / vibrate switch is activated. This change was made in response to some users who were not hearing sound feedback and had a tough time understanding what was causing this. The reason in many cases was that the mute / vibrate switch was activated. The new behavior is that if the sound feedback option is activated in the app settings, the app will play sounds (provided the phone’s volume is non-zero).

(6) More transparent communication of tracking errors. The previous version of Clew hid most of the potential errors with motion tracking from the user. Now the app communicates errors such as in cases where there are poor visual features in you environment or if the phone is being moved too quickly.

(7) Dropped support for iOS 11. The new route saving feature requires iOS 12 (or higher) to work as well as possible. While a much more basic version of route saving would have been possible with iOS 11, we didn’t feel that it would work well enough to justify implementing it.

We would love feedback on these new features before we release this as an official app update. You can provide feedback through TestFlight e-mail contact or to either of these e-mail addresses (Paul.Ruvolo@olin.edu or clewapp@gmail.com).

As a final note, while the changes above certainly address some of the feedback we’ve gotten from you all, there are still many things we have not had a chance to do (one notable thing is support for other languages). Please trust us that we are working on these aspects of the app and look forward to continually improving Clew for the community.

Known bugs:
(1) The display of metric units got a bit mangled in the current beta build. It is still apparent what is being communicated, but a space was accidentally left out of the text that VoiceOver reads. This is fixed, but I am waiting to upload a new beta build for when we have collected and responded to more feedback from the community.

Again, the link to the beta version that can be downloaded through TestFlight is here:

https://testflight.apple.com/join/yjuFusW2

All the best, and we really appreciate the feedback we have gotten from the community to help us improve Clew,
Paul

Submitted by Richard on Wednesday, May 1, 2019

clew now has onboard help and the ability to save routes in one direction. My first use without setting a landmark, just a throw-away route worked great! When I started with a landmark, in order to save a route, when I was done and went back to the starting point and ran the saved route, not so good. It had me turning left into a wall about half-way down a hall... They are planning to add the ability to reverse direction with saved routes, which will be good. This app shows great promise to help people who get turned around when navigating indoors.

Hi Richard,

I am the head of the team building this app. I would be very interested in talking to you more about your experience with this new feature. I fear that the instructions on using the feature may not be very clear and as a result users are not having as good of an experience as they might otherwise (of course, there could be another problem instead). Could you drop my a line at either Paul.Ruvolo@olin.edu or paullundyruvolo@gmail.com and perhaps we could setup a quick phone call. I'm sure you are quite busy, but if you have the time it would help me out immensely (the same offer goes to others who are reading this that have feedback on the save / load routes feature).

All the best!
Paul

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