Blind passengers can now navigate stations with the help of an augmented reality (AR) app that has received a portion of £2m funding. The app, called Wayfindr, was developed by the Royal London Society for Blind People (RLSB) and digital product studio ustwo. It uses Bluetooth beacons to provide audio directions to blind and visually impaired passengers as they navigate through train stations.
The app was first trialled at Pimlico station in London in 2015, and has since been tested at other stations including Euston, Liverpool Street, and Birmingham New Street. The funding will allow Wayfindr to expand its reach to more stations across the UK.
The app works by using Bluetooth beacons placed throughout the station to communicate with the user’s smartphone. The beacons send signals to the app, which then provides audio directions to the user through their headphones. The app can also detect when the user is approaching stairs or escalators, and will provide additional guidance to help them navigate these obstacles safely.
Wayfindr is designed to be easy to use, even for those who are not familiar with technology. The app is available in multiple languages, and can be downloaded for free from the App Store or Google Play.
The development of Wayfindr is a significant step forward in making public transport more accessible for blind and visually impaired passengers. According to the RLSB, around 90% of blind and visually impaired people feel that they cannot travel independently on public transport. Wayfindr aims to change this by providing a reliable and easy-to-use navigation system that can be used by anyone with a smartphone.
The funding for Wayfindr comes from the Rail Safety and Standards Board’s (RSSB) “Innovation Programme”, which aims to improve safety and accessibility on the UK’s railways. The programme has also funded other projects, such as a system that uses lasers to detect obstacles on train tracks, and a device that can detect when a train driver is becoming fatigued.
Overall, the development of Wayfindr is a positive step towards making public transport more accessible for everyone. By using technology to provide audio directions, blind and visually impaired passengers can now navigate train stations with greater ease and independence. With the app set to expand to more stations across the UK, it is hoped that Wayfindr will help to break down barriers and improve accessibility for all.
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