It’s no longer a secret that technology can make our lives easier, and when it comes to blind and low-vision people, simple things like smartphones sport accessibility features that certainly come in handy on several occasions.
A mobile application called NaviLens makes the whole thing possible thanks to an advanced algorithm that looks for visual indicators that could help find the location of a bus stop more accurately. The application, which is available on both Android and iPhone, can convert all these signs into audio guidance provided to the user and can offer information regarding the distance to the stop, when the next bus is scheduled to arrive, and even receive instructions to get on the bus when it opens its doors.
If more advanced technology is available, such as sensors installed on the bus, the application can tell the user how crowded it is.
The local authorities will place seven-inch QR codes on bus stops, and the mobile app can detect them from up to 40 feet (12 meters) away and at an angle of up to 160 degrees. NaviLens has been designed in such a way that the user doesn’t have to point the camera directly at the QR code, so it recognizes it even if it’s not in focus.
“The code does not have to be in focus for app detection and will direct the user by providing audio directional cues including distance and angle from code such as ‘25 feet away, straight,’ ‘right,’ etc., solving the ‘last-few-yards wayfinding problem’ for the blind in which GPS technology does not guide to a destination’s exact location,” the MTA explains in a press release (embedded below).
If the pilot program proves to be successful, support for the application and the QR codes could then be expanded to more locations in New York.