May 4, 2018

Wayfindr: The Revolutionary Audio Based Navigation System Helping to Empower the Blind

Tiernan Kenny, Head of Communications at Wayfindr dropped by Air’s studio to talk about how his team is helping to empower the visually impaired.

Wayfindr are small non-profit organisation whose aim is to help the 285 million people worldwide living with sight loss to travel confidentially through the use of audio based navigation. Over half of the 2 million sufferers in the UK would like to be able to leave their homes on a regular basis but are unable to travel independently, leading to isolation.

The problem is only going to get worse, by 2050 over 4 million people will be living sight loss due to an ageing population. However, the emergence of smartphones and indoor navigation technologies such Bluetooth Low Energy Beacons are starting to open up the world for vision impaired people, but in order to achieve the greatest impact a consistent standard needs to be implemented.

Wayfindr have developed the world’s first internationally-approved standard for accessible audio navigation, allowing users to experience seamless and reliable navigation. The open standard also provides venue owners with the tools to implement high quality audio wayfinding solutions (you can read more about it here).

It’s not just the visually impaired who will benefit from the introduction of audio navigation. Venue owners will see an increase in spending, £240 billion a year in the UK goes unspent due to people with disabilities not being able to access products and services. Audio navigation can help improve the wayfinding experience for all users (e.g. it can be provided in a range of different languages.), thus improving the flow of people through space.

Wayfindr have already started to test the use of their open standard in multiple venues, including Euston Station in London, St Marks Square in Venice and Las Arenas shopping Centre in Barcelona (take a look at the trial below).