Connecthing

Strasbourg tests beacons to improve transit info for blind riders

A French public transportation provider is working with a contactless services firm to improve real-time information for blind and visually impaired passengers.

ctsBus

The Compagnie de Transports Strasbourgeois and Connecthings are using Bluetooth low-energy beacons to communicate with customer smart phones.

Connecthings had already teamed up with the Strasbourg metropolitan area in 2012 to launch StrasPlus, the first connected-city mobile service in France. That project installed more than 1,400 stickers on points of interest like public buildings, bus stops, and tourist destinations; individuals could interact with these locations on their smart phones using NFC, QR codes, or WiFi technology.

“StrasPlus makes the link between the physical and digital worlds by providing inhabitants with innovative, cross-universe, real-time information services,” said Connecthings CEO and founder Laetitia Gazel Anthoine.

To make the program more useful to blind and visually impaired travelers, Connecthings added BLE beacons and incorporated more detail into the bus-arrival announcements.

As the bus approaches the stop, the beacon sends a message to the rider’s smart phone which is immediately translated into speech in the customer’s own language based on phone settings.

One challenge was determining how to base the information on actual bus arrivals rather than the bus stop. “Beacons were placed behind the windscreens of the buses, but the initial range of 80 meters was not enough,” said Alain Caffart, CTS information systems manager. “They had to be configured to be more powerful and now that range has been doubled to 160 meters.”

Another concern was making sure the riders received the information in time to make a decision. “At first, by the time the application had reacted and announced the bus line, number, and direction, the bus had already left,” Caffart added.

After addressing these issues, CTS tested the system on 12 buses for six weeks last fall. The trial was successful and a systemwide roll-out is expected to begin in 2017. Link to full story in ZDNet.


› Author: Susan
› Photo source: CTS 
› Published: 28/07/2016
› Original article

› Source: TheTransitWire.com

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