By Evelien Merlier, researcher at IMEC and Antwerp pilot site leader
In Flanders, a Proof-of-Concept (PoC) for people with a visual impairment was developed, that helped them to cross an intersection in a safe way. The researchers and developers implemented almost all the recommendations coming from the Universal Design Manual and co-creation activities.
Two real-life tests took place in Helmond (the Netherlands), where the application was linked to the cloud-based platform Talking traffic, that enables a connection with smart traffic lights. This enabled the communication of the status of the traffic lights in real time. One user test took place in Brugge and five in Ghent. After the real-life test with the Mobiele Rateltikker, the researchers conducted one-on-one interviews. The people participating for the second time compared the enhanced PoC with the earlier versions assessed in the previous phases of INDIMO and gave feedback on the changes made. Pilot 2 used a combination of strategies for engaging participants with reduced mobility (e.g., Recruiting via targeted social media channels, engaging users’ representative organizations, etc.).
Finally, 8 participants tested and responded to the interviews. Overall, the participants said the app provides a lot of added value and empowers them to try out new route. They appreciated the hands-free functionality a lot. Most of the participants said that the application is easy to use. They suggested enabling the connection and integration of our app with other applications (e.g., Google Maps, Lazarillo, OKO, etc.) they already use when navigating in the city. The biggest flaws to transfer this solution are the needs to install extra hardware (Bluetooth beacons) to guarantee a more accurate position than GPS position. The number of visually impaired people continues to rise, it is therefore important to adapt the city, both digitally and physically, so that everyone can move freely and safe, in the city.