The London Underground network can feel like a maze for even the most seasoned traveller, especially at rush hour when you’re packed in with hordes of new “friends.” The problem isn’t made any better for the visually impaired, but a tag team of Bluetooth beacons and a smartphone app make for a less stressful experience.
Wayfindr’s being developed by Ustwo (yes, the Monument Valley developers) and the Royal London Society for Blind People’s (RLSB) Youth Forum to offer travellers audio-based directions and advice. A month-long trial at Pimlico station is now underway with 16 beacons to track users’ smartphone and activate descriptive notes. The information is basic, but could offer valuable guidance and, hopefully, confidence to the visually impaired navigating the Underground on their own.
The Wayfindr app pairs with bone conduction earphones to let the wearer listen to their surroundings simultaneously. It’s a small trial for now, but it could lead to further tests and shape how beacons become integrated into each station’s physical architecture.