A Smartphone App Helps Blind People Navigate The London Tube With Beacons And Bluetooth

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Good news for blind people wanting to travel on the London Tube. While at the moment they still have to rely on station staff to assist them on to their train, a new smartphone app created by the Royal London Society for Blind People (RLSB’s) Youth Forum and digital product studio ustwo could help them in the future navigate the city independently.

The app, called Wayfindr, uses Bluetooth and beacon technology to trace the user’s location in the subway and give him audible directions. A prototype has been recently trialled at Pimlico station, where sixteen beacons have been installed.

The system is pretty clever: it uses bone conduction headphones that rest on the blind person’s cheeks, giving him turn-by-turn directions on where to go and on the obstacles to avoid, each time a beacon’s signal is picked up by the smartphone.

At the same time, the headphones do not prevent…

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