A non-profit startup called Wayfindr wants to help the visually impaired navigate complex urban environments. The idea is to provide audio directions for spaces like train stations and shopping centers, using beacons throughout each location to provide the most specific directions possible in relation to a user’s location.
Wayfindr just received a $1 million grant from Google.org, and has set up a trial of their prototype app at the London Underground’s Euston Station, according to CNET.
"Ultimately this innovative project is about giving our vision-impaired customers the flexibility to travel with the same independence and spontaneity as everyone else," David Waboso, London Underground's capital programs director, told CNET.
So far, Wayfindr is a stand-alone app, but the company hopes to build audio navigation tools that can be incorporated into other map or venue apps. “The ambition with such a system is to provide a known, reliable technology that can easily be deployed in a wide variety of transportation systems or indoor venues such as shopping centers, arenas or hospitals,” CNET explains.
Right now, Wayfindr is using its Euston Station trial to figure out what kind of tools and directions are most effective, and are fine-tuning both the app and the language it uses. It’s unclear how long it will take to get Wayfindr technology in more locations, but if the testimonies of the women in the video below are any indication, the Wayfindr navigation software could be revolutionary.
"Moving freely is something that many of us take for granted," Google’s UK managing director Eileen Naughton told CNET. "The hope here is that we can support mobility and movement through innovations in technology."