The map of the London Underground looks like a place where you can still get lost even with fully functioning eyes. It is often much more difficult for someone with a visual impairment to find their way. Many people with such a disability are often dependent on staff or friends when they travel by metro. Transport for London (TfL) felt that this needed to change and started looking at the possibilities of iBeacon technology to guide visually impaired people.

Tfl, together with specialists, started looking at which resources work best to guide people turn-by-turn, even underground. They quickly arrived at iBeacon technology. This technology makes it possible to determine where someone is with his or her smartphone via a Bluetooth signal.

By placing iBeacons in various places throughout the metro station, it becomes possible to determine someone's position accurately to a maximum of a few meters. If you combine this infrastructure with an app and a set of earplugs, you can literally hear where the doors and hallways are. This way you could plan your trip in advance and you will literally be told how to walk, where everything is and when the metro is coming!

Lauren, a young woman with visual impairment, participated in the first tests of the technology. She says: “This technology gives me a lot of confidence – it gives me the opportunity to be independent and truly free.”

Dr Tom Pey, director of the Royal London Society for Blind People (RLSB), says many young people with visual impairments often miss out on good job opportunities because there is a great fear of using public transport alone. A well-thought-out application of iBeacon technology in public transport could allay this fear.

Watch the case video here:

From Us and iBeacons

At Van Ons we are also constantly working on new technologies and so are the iBeacon technology. This year, in collaboration with Sound and Vision, we made an iBeacon case for the queue at the Top 2000 café. Read more about this case here.

Interested in an iBeacon application? Then contact us!