Technology for patients with sight impairment

Project: Smart public transport
Partner: Asociația Tandem
Beneficiaries: Persons with visual impairments
Location: Bucharest
Year of launch: 2015
Budget: 417,181 lei

Purpose of the project:

Equipping 1,100 public transport means in Bucharest with special devices announcing, by means of a mobile application, the number of the public transport means arriving at the station. The application announces the next stops, the direction of travel and the available connections.

Problem:

People with visual impairments in Romania have limited mobility, especially in large cities where an infrastructure designed to facilitate their travel and ensure their autonomy is lacking.

Solution:

More than 1,100 physical transmitter devices were mounted on all buses and trolleybuses in the RATB fleet between January 2016 and June 2017, based on the iBeacon protocol. iBeacon was first introduced by Apple in 2013, offering a class of low-energy Bluetooth proximity sensing devices that broadcast a unique identifier to nearby smartphones, tablets and other devices.

A specially enhanced iBeacon device approximately the size of a hockey puck was created for the SPT initiative, providing significantly longer range and capable of lasting up to four years before needing to be replaced.
Users with compatible smartphones download the special SPT app for free on iOS or Android and can use it to plot routes in advance. The beacon itself transmits one-way, ensuring that only the app is able to track users as they travel on public transport.

When a bus or trolleybus with the iBeacon transmitter reaches a certain distance from a user waiting at a stop, the app receives a ping from the transmitter via Bluetooth. Once the bus is within 50 metres, an audio alert notifies the user with a short message that the vehicle is approaching. The beacon itself emits a beep once the bus arrives to help users enter the vehicle.

Once on board, the SPT app utilises the GPS function on smartphones to update users with useful information, such as the location of their next station and any connections with other forms of transport.

Results:

– 1 Smart Public Transport application on iOS and Android platforms.
– 1.100 iBeacons installed on public transport means in Bucharest (buses and trolleybuses)

See also:

Press release
Video