Thanks to the new Bluetooth beacon technology, visually impaired Brits can now travel independently on the London Underground using a smartphone app.
Developed by Ustwo in collaboration with the Royal London Society for Blind People, the new “Wayfindr” system offers audio-based directions and advice to the blind and partially sighted travelers.
In the trial of the technology, which is currently underway at Pimlico station, 16 Bluetooth beacons transmit a signal that can be picked up by smartphones and mobile devices. The Wayfindr system uses location data from Bluetooth beacons to locate where a person is and then deliver audible directions through bone conduction earphones that do not prevent wearers from hearing the sounds around them.
‘When I tested the app at Pimlico last week for the first time it was awesome, it made me feel free’, said RLSB Youth Forum member Courtney Nugent.
The trial has been running since early February and will continue until 13 March and, if successful, could roll out to rail stations and airports across the country.
London Underground said the information and feedback collected during the trial would help it better understand how the technology could be implemented more widely on its network.
Isabel Dedring, Deputy Mayor for Transport, said “This is another great example of how London is leading the way in making public transport more accessible for everyone. These trials will hopefully prove that this sort of technology works in real life situations and will give people more freedom and confidence to travel around our capital.”