Inspiration: Navigate sets our to help blind and visually-impaired riders navigate individual subways stations. Often blind riders have a challenging time understanding where they are from within a subway station, such as where stairways to to or which platform they are on.
How it works: If the user has the app running and their device's accessibility voice-over feature set to ON, and are within a station that is equipped with bluetooth beacons, then once they come in contact with a beacon, the app will deliver relevant location information based on where they are within the station. The app will deliver this information based on North, South, East and West directional information; example: "to your North is the 4,5, 6 Downtown stairwell."
Challenges I ran into: We are working with Nimble technologies SDK and sometimes we are not able to tweak their SDK code to creating the ultimate zonings areas our experience requires. We also had trouble with overlapping zones of the nimble beacons and refining those areas for our experience, since we don't have direct access to their SDK, or had a say as to where the beacons where installed within the station. Getting the user's position (which direction they were facing) using Nimble's positioning system, didn't always seem to work properly, especially when the users was near a subway platforms that has a lot of electrical signal interference.
Accomplishments: The blind users we tested with designed how they wanted the interface to function. They wanted a mental map of the station layout based on north,south, east and west directions.
What I learned: Working with an SDK that you do not fully understand (Nimble's positioning software) can be difficult when your user experience is so dependent on it. What's next for Navigate: We want to work with Nimble and the MTA to improve the user experience based on Nimble's beacon positioning technology.
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