Your Bus Is Here Bluetooth Beacons Help Visually Impaired Navigate Public Transport
We love hearing about cutting-edge applications of Bluetooth® technology that makes all of our lives easier. But we’re especially excited when we see Bluetooth used to help people who have special needs. That’s the case with a new public transport program that is helping guide the blind in Bucharest.
Beacons—installed in 500 buses and trolleys around Romania’s capital city—are helping the visually impaired ride and transfer buses without needing assistance, using Bluetooth proximity sensing to transmit a unique ID. The beacons are small transmitters that continuously send a signal in a distance from a few centimeters to a few meters and up to 70 meters to all devices that are listening for such a signal. After setting up a smartphone app, user can select which bus line to follow and will receive an alert when the bus is nearing the station. The bus driver will also be given a heads-up that a blind passenger is waiting in the next station. The bus itself will beep when it arrives—useful if there are several buses in a particular station—and will stop beeping only after the passenger is safely on board.
Over 7,000 people are officially registered as visually impaired in Bucharest, and Onyx Beacon—the company which developed the technology—estimates that there are actually 12,000 potential users. “The success of this project will certainly lead to further widespread implementation in all countries where there are real concerns for the accessibility of public spaces for those with special needs,” they said.
The project is one of eight selected for funding by Romania’s Mobile for Good program, which focuses on using technology for social causes. Visit www.onyxbeacon.com to learn more.