Transport for London has announced that it is trialling an application and technology system in London Euston Underground station that could greatly aid blind people in getting around the capital.
Wayfindr is a system co-developed by ustwo - the studio behind the hugely successful mobile game Monument Valley - and the Royal London Society for Blind People's youth forum. It uses installed beacons in public locations that interact with a free smartphone app for accurate audio navigation. The beacons are only small so can be placed almost anywhere.
The beacons can be installed on the Underground - as they are in the trial phase - so blind people can use the app and system to help them navigate the winding labyrinths of the Tube network through description.
The project was awarded a $1 million grant by Google.org earlier this year, as part of the Google Impact Challenge, and this will be set towards accelerating the Wayfindr project over the next three years, with the Euston station trial just the next phase in the expansion plans.
It will also be introduced to other urban settings in cities worldwide, including hospitals and retail environments.
"Wayfindr evolved from a collaboration with RLSB’s youth forum investigating whether they could use their smartphones to navigate the London Underground as part of ustwo’s Invent Time social good R&D programme," said Umesh Pandya, CEO of Wayfindr and former director at ustwo.
"Through our open and inclusive design approach, the Wayfindr standard has the potential to change the lives of vision impaired people across the globe."
The Wayfindr concept is similar to Cities Unlocked, a Microsoft technology Pocket-lint tested a year ago, which was developed in collaboration with the UK's Guide Dogs Association. That required a separate headset device, while Wayfindr uses a normal smartphone with a dedicated app installed.