San Francisco Airport is trialing location-aware beacons to help visually-impaired people get around one of its newest terminals. If proven successful, the program would then be expanded to the rest of the airport and also include Android users to the mix; at the moment, the system runs on iPhones, only.
The beacons are provided by an indoor positioning company Indoo.rs, and each beacon will connect to a smartphone app to display information when a user gets within range. For the visually impaired, the system relies on Apple’s Voiceover technology to provide users with visual cues for how to navigate to locations from a directory that can be sorted. In addition, the accompanying app will read out points of interest as they come on screen.
The airport has installed about 300 beacons around the terminal.Price wise, each beacon — which is about the size of a bottle cap — costs around $20 and runs off battery that provides enough juice to keep the petite device going for up to 4 years. The airport has installed about 300 beacons around the terminal.
SFO and Indoo.rs will continue to test this system over the next month with a live version of the site, and public availability of the software coming later this fall.
Airports aside, these sort of beacons are increasingly installed in other places such as major retailers, museums, movie theaters and some sports venues. Though, more often than not, they are used to provide additional information rather than aid the visually-impaired people…