Beacons on Buses Aid Visually-impaired Passengers

Smart-Public-Transport-by-Onyx-Beacon-Bus-arrival-notification-received-on-iPodA Romanian-based beacon startup is aiming to put the Bluetooth devices to work in public transportation, providing vital information to visually-impaired passengers through an accompanying app on their phone.

Onyx Beacon, which is based in Cluj-Napoca, launched the project in capital city Bucharest, placing 500 beacons on the sides of city buses and trolley cars that interact with bus stops around the city.

The bus stops recognise when someone with the app, which is available for Android and iOS, is near them. Then, when the bus is within 180 feet of the bus stop, a notification is sent to the phone along with a unique audio signal, letting the user know which bus is approaching.

Combined with text-to-speech readers that most visually-impaired passengers already have equipped on their phone, the beacon solution provides users with a valuable tool for navigating the city, and grants them greater independence and mobility.

The beacon solution has been in place in Bucharest since June, and has received extremely positive feedback from users. Onyx Beacon is now aiming to expand the solution to other cities, and is working with public transportation providers to develop further functionality.

“We believe that technology can bring positive social changes and seriously improve and develop lift quality standards within communities,” said Ravinder Takkar, CEO of Vodafone Romania, who helped fund the project. “Vodafone Foundation is honoured to support valuable projects able to bring real social benefits for thousands of citizens.”