Wayfindr is a non-profit organisation, we are creating a benchmark in standards for digital wayfinding on mobile devices. We want to empower vision impaired people to overcome isolation, through audio based navigation.
There are an estimated 285 million people worldwide living with sight loss.
This can often lead to isolation, poverty and depression. Of the estimated 2 million vision impaired people in the UK, almost half say they would like to leave their home more often. At the moment many vision impaired people are unable to travel independently, instead relying on other people to help them get around or just not venturing out at all.
What if vision impaired people were empowered to navigate independently using the smartphone they already have in their pockets?
This was the challenge investigated by the Royal London Society for Blind People’s (RLSB) Youth Forum and ustwo in 2014. We soon discovered that yes, this was possible. There and then we knew this was going to be life changing. Wayfindr was formed.
Wayfindr Open Standard
Emerging indoor navigation technologies such as Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) Beacons hold the key to opening up the world for vision impaired people. However, in order to achieve the greatest impact globally, there is a pressing need to develop a consistent standard to be implemented across wayfinding systems. This will truly open up a world where vision impaired people are no longer held back by their sight loss, removing barriers to employment, to seeing friends and family and engaging in their community.
The Wayfindr Open Standard aims to do just that. As the Open Standard develops it will give venue owners and digital navigation services the tools to implement high quality, consistent, audio wayfinding solutions. It includes an open-source demo app that enables people who download it to use BLE beacons to understand and implement the open standard with real users, in real contexts, in real time.
In May we released the first Working Draft, after trials in London and Sydney. We are now working on the next iteration of the Open Standard, which will involve more trials and input from the Wayfindr Community.
Eventually it won't just be the Underground, we could also use National Rail on our own as well. It could then be expanded to city level, to restaurants, to shops and that would be really revolutionary. That would change our lives I think. We wouldn't need any assistance to get anywhere.- Ruksana, RLSB Youth Forum Member
How we are building the Wayfindr Open Standard
Off the shelf technology
We are building the Open Standard using a hypothesis backlog. This is a series of assumptions we make which we then test. For example:
“We believe that vision impaired people will need intermediate feedback between two waypoints that are far apart so that they feel confident they are following the right route.”
We plot these hypotheses from high risk to low risk, and known to unknown. We use this to prioritise what we will investigate in our live trials. We validate if these are true based on our observations and the user feedback during the research trials. If it is true then it becomes part of the draft open standard, if not then we rework it and it returns to the backlog.
- Real users
- Real settings
- Real time iteration
Co-founder and CEO at Wayfindr, Umesh is passionate about making “inclusive not exclusive” digital products. Previous to this role he was a senior member of staff at ustwo’s London studio. Alongside leading client projects, he founded the Invent Time programme which investigated ways to bring positive change to people’s lives using readily available off the shelf technology.
Director at Wayfindr, Florence is also Director of Corporate Development at Royal London Society for Blind People (RLSB), she's had this role since 2011. Florence’s career started in the private sector in advertising, working on international accounts before moving to business development for internet services and online training. She created the National Skills Academy for Sport in 2008, backed by all employers in the sector.
Andy is an experienced copy writer and editor, he has joined Wayfindr as their Communications Officer. He previously worked at Penguin Random House.