Audio beacons to enable independence

Posted on 14 December 2017

Guide Dogs Victoria are working to roll-out the installation of beacon technology in a variety of important public spaces, which leads to significantly greater inclusion and access for people with vision impairment.

Beacons deliver audio information, which is accessed by individuals through a GPS navigation app, Blindsquare, on their smart phones. Most venue information is typically received visually such as platform numbers and location of bathrooms. Blindsquare is then delivered via an individual’s headphones, enabling independence to navigate a public space.

It’s a low-cost navigation tool that delivers info via Bluetooth, generally location-specific audio instructions, such as there are stairs 20 metres away, a lift is 2 metres to the right, or an information desk is 10 metres to the left. Information is updated in real time and can be accessed in 30 different languages.

Southern Cross Station has now installed the technology, and it is currently being user-tested. Melbourne Zoo is expected to follow shortly.

In October, Guide Dogs Victoria hosted a public launch at Southern Cross Station, and recognised the work of Public Transport Victoria (PTV) in taking steps towards greater inclusion. A significant amount of positive media was generated from this, and as a result Guide Dogs Victoria has now received enquiries from Jells Park, Albert Park Lake (including Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre), HarbourTown and a number of Westfield Shopping Centre’s regarding the use of beacon technology.

Read the story on the Guide Dogs Victoria beacon project (external).