MBTA Tests Bluetooth Beacons for Blind and Visually Impaired

BOSTON, MA (WBZ-AM)  The MBTA and the Perkins institute for the blind are starting  a pilot program designed to help visually-imparted people on their daily commutes.

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The smartphone mobile application called Blindways, created by Perkins Solutions, uses Bluetooth technology to pick up signals  sent by beacons a bus stops.

“ As the person whose travelling walks towards a bus top they will feel a vibration on their iPhone and that vibration which will call haptic feedback,  it will grow stronger as they approach the bus stop,” said Louisa Agayar, Executive Director at the Perkins School.

VIDEO: Learn how the BlindWays mobile app works below.

 

According to MBTA  officials, an earlier version of the mobile app assisted users in locating a bus stop within about 30 feet via the use of crowdsourced information and landmarks but if riders weren’t  quite near the bus stop – they would miss their ride.

“it solves what’s really the most heart-rending problem which is if you’re blind or visually impaired, you’re looking for a bus stop and you think that you are there but you’re actually 20-30 feet away and  guess what -- that bus does not stop for you,” said  David Block Schachter, The T’s  Chief Technology Officer.

Nearly one hundred Bluetooth beacons have been put in place on bus routes 70 and 71.

WBZ Newsradio1030’s Carl Stevens reports.

 

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