Station navigation app for visually impaired people

06 Mar 2015

UK: A six-week trial due to end on March 13 aims to assist blind and partially sighted people to navigate London Underground stations independently through a smartphone app.

The prototype Wayfindr app has been developed by ustwo in response to the Royal London Society for Blind People’s Youth Forum. LU’s Technology & Innovation team and ustwo are jointly funding the trial.

In the trial at Pimlico station, 16 Bluetooth low-energy beacons made by Estimote transmit a signal that can be picked up by smartphones and mobile devices. Wayfindr uses indoor positioning technology with these signals to locate itself and give 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 results will inform how audio wayfinding could work across the network and establish how beacons work within the architecture of an LU station and around large volumes of people. The app is being developed on an open basis.

Deputy Mayor for Transport Isabel Dedring 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.’

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