Innovation Insights: XR Navigation

Thu 19 Oct 2023

While attending our Remarkable Tech Summit earlier this month, XR Navigation CEO Brandon Biggs shared this insightful quote:

It is extremely difficult for people with disabilities to start companies, and the Remarkable US program is a safe space for them to really excel. In our cohort, there were technologies that I feel are critical in people’s lives. The technologies that go through this accelerator are actually going to make an impact — whether that’s through people with disabilities running the companies or that they’ve got measurable studies in co-design and efficacy, all the Remarkable companies are really top notch.XR Navigation CEO Brandon Biggs outside with palm trees in the background. Smiling white man with green eyes and brown hair. Wearing a navy collared shirt and a purple lanyard that has his nametag on it.

To further highlight XR Navigation's work, check out the recent Q&A Mr. Biggs had with the global Remarkable team this past summer.

What is your startup and who is your target market?

XR Navigation is building Audiom: The world’s most inclusive digital visual, auditory, and tactile map viewer and editor.

Our initial customer segments are businesses, governments, universities, and colleges who care about inclusion.

Next, we will focus on businesses, governments, universities, and colleges who are required to be accessible.

Eventually, we hope to partner with existing mapping tools like Google Maps, ESRI, Apple Maps, the different Microsoft mapping tools, and Mapbox to make their maps inclusive so all maps on the web can be accessible to the greatest number of people.

There are around 24 customer segments in this $22 billion industry that is growing at a 22% CAGR, and each segment has its own unique needs and purchasing process. University and colleges, who we are focusing on now, are a $105 million market segment.

How have you engaged end-users in the development of XR Navigation?
We are employing all blind developers to build the non-visual experience, and sighted map accessibility experts to build the visual experience.

We have run co-designs with around 30 blind participants, and evaluated the system on another 20 blind participants. Here are the papers we have published already, and there are two pending publication:

  • Paper: Biggs, B., Toth, C., Stockman, T., Coughlan, J., & Walker, B. (2022). Evaluation of a Non-Visual Auditory Choropleth and Travel Map Viewer. Published in the International Conference on Auditory Display, 2022. PMCID: PMC10010675.
  • Paper: Biggs, B., Coughlan, J., Coppin, P. (2019). Design And Evaluation Of An Audio Game-Inspired Auditory Map Interface. Published in the International Conference on Auditory Display, 2019.
  • Master’s Thesis: Biggs, B. (2019). Designing Accessible Nonvisual Maps. Ontario College of Art and Design University.

Can you share some success stories or accomplishments that you’ve achieved since launching?

  • We have three customers.
  • We received a small business technology transfer grant (STTR) from the National Institutes of Health.
  • We won first place in the Klaus startup competition in March 2023.
  • We installed an interactive 3D model map and digital audio map of the Magical Bridge Playground.

What sets your startup apart from competitors?
We have the ONLY digital map viewer and editor that’s accessible to blind users.

What advice would you give to aspiring disability tech entrepreneurs?

  • Get people with disabilities on your team if they aren’t already. User-lead design is the best. This will mean being a remote company, but that’s normal now.
  • Participate in something like Remarkable or the Impact Center incubator, if possible. It is a great experience.
  • It’s a bad idea to touch what the users think is working. There’s so much not working that it’s not worth your time to make a 20% improvement on something. Make a 500% or more improvement, or give access for the first time to something for a group. There are so many inaccessible things in the world that it’s not worth doing anything less.

What does it mean to you to be part of the Remarkable community?
I am connected to mentors, startups, and coaches who know about disability tech, who care enough to make things inclusive, and who give feedback I trust because I know they are in this space.

Where do you want your startup to be in one month, one year, and 10 years?

  • One month: New website with a demo campus map.
  • One year: Six customers, with three being colleges and universities. An STTR grant phase II. Maybe raised a seed round.
  • 10 years: On every map (or 95% of the maps) on the internet.

 


Want to learn more about XR Navigation? Check out our Disability Tech Talk and Changing What's Possible podcast episodes with Brandon Biggs. You can also follow XR Navigation on Facebook, LinkedIn, and X (formerly Twitter).

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