New app will help design suitable transport for people with sight loss

21 March 2017  •  Author(s): Eurotransport Magazine

The Transport Systems Catapult (TSC) is using smartphone technology to help design transport suitable for people with sight loss conditions.

In 2015, the ‘My Voice’ survey by the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) revealed that 40% of blind and partially sighted people were not able to make all the journeys that they wanted or needed to because of lack of accessibility.

To help combat this, the TSC and RNIB have developed the new ‘Eyeware’ app which will allow users to experience the world around them from the viewpoint of people experiencing various eye conditions. This is done by applying virtual filters over the surrounding environment in real time which mimic various conditions including diabetic retinopathy; retinitis pigmentosa; cataracts; and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

“Urban environments like stations and new technology can be confusing for anyone, but the difficulties this causes can be increased ten-fold when someone is blind or partially sighted,” said Project Leader Martin Pett, Principle Technologist at the Transport Systems Catapult. “Not only are we aiming to raise awareness of these disabilities, but our app will also have practical applications. For instance, we are helping architects design stations that are easily navigable for people with sight loss and looking at ways to make self-driving cars more accessible.”

The filters are being used at the Transport Systems Catapult to help design accessible transport systems within the organisation’s ‘Visualisation Laboratory’ which is designed to help industry develop potential applications of the latest Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality technology for the transport industry.

“There is huge potential for this app to raise awareness of what it might be like to have an eye condition both from an educational and practical standpoint,” John Worsfold, RNIB Implementation Manager added. “Eyeware can help friends and family better understand their loved ones’ condition, young people empathising with those suffering Visual Impairment to helping policy makers, architects and designers make better decisions in designing more inclusive goods and services such as urban environments and transportation.”

The Eyeware app is available for download from the Apple store and Google Play store. Find out more at ts.catapult.org.uk/eyeware

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