Connecthings, an urban tech company, just launched a pilot program in Austin, Texas to deliver real time Capital Metro bus schedule and service alert information to riders who are blind or visually impaired.
The program, which will run for the next sixty days at sixteen Capital Metro bus stops across downtown Austin, was developed in partnership with RATP Dev USA, Capital Metro’s bus service operations and management partner, BlindSquare, the world’s most popular accessible GPS application for people who are blind or visually impaired, and BlueCats, manufacturers of the world’s most advanced Bluetooth® Low Energy (BLE) beacons and intelligent internet of things (IIoT) asset tracking solutions.
This digital infrastructure, powered by Connecthings, works in connection with the BlindSquare app to transform how transit riders, who are blind or visually impaired, interact with public transportation in Austin. Through the app, riders can now get real-time bus schedule and service alert information automatically when in proximity to the stop. BlindSquare brings the riders to the stop, and supports the continuation of the journey to the destination of choice when exiting the bus.
“Technology is a remarkable thing. Every day new developments, devices and discoveries are made which have the potential to change the world as we know it,” said Laetitia Gazel Anthoine, CEO of Connecthings. “For riders who are blind or partially sighted, Connecthings, Capital Metro and RAPT Dev are breaking down key communication barriers that can inhibit the lives of those who are, in this case, visually impaired. This pilot program will demonstrate how easily and efficiently transportation systems can deliver information to riders from the first mile to the last mile.”
“The use of beacons, especially integrated with smart mobile apps, provides the potential of many useful applications that can benefit the community,” said Joe Iannello, Capital Metro vice president and chief information officer, and President of Austin CityUP. “This initial demonstration in Austin with Connecthings, BlueCats and BlindSquare is a first step in exploring some of those benefits.”
“We push back on the void of darkness, replacing it with the illumination of information – daily.” said Ilkka Pirttimaa, CEO of BlindSquare. “With BlindSquare we support independent travel – a necessary ingredient for life, employment and pure fun for all – now delivered by Capital Metro/Austin Public Transit, a service ready, willing and now able to close the void for riders in Austin who are blind.”
At launch, the pilot program will only be open to a select number of “beta-riders” that will use the app on a daily basis while providing feedback and input for optimizing and improving the service.
“Quality service and innovation are benchmarks of our core services and those of our transportation partners like Capital Metro,” said Sandy Freeman, Vice President, Innovation & Product Delivery at RATP Dev U.S. “This is especially true of our Paratransit services where we make it as easy as possible for any passenger to reach any destination, at any time. Testing this technology in Austin demonstrates our dedication to technological innovations in transportation.”
This program is just one of many services that can be enabled by Connecthings in a smart city environment. In addition to delivering real-time bus information to the blind and visually impaired, the same information can be access by other riders via push notifications. In June 2017, Connecthings joined AustinCityUp, a smart city consortium of companies, organizations, and individuals collaborating on activities that advance Austin, TX through digital technologies, data collection, analytics, and modeling.
To learn more about Connecthings, visit www.connecthings.com
Across all major European and North American markets where Connecthings is established, we have witnessed the booming of « mobility as a service » : car sharing, car pooling, dockless bike rental, city motorbike rental….mobility mobile applications across all types of vehicles to a variety of new business models. The complexity of this burgeoning ecosystem lays in how to help commuters to access and take advantage of all these services – effortless and how to help cities to welcome and take benefit of the huge range of services for their citizens. In the course of a single day, we can all juggle between subway, bus, taxi, bike, carpooling….
At Connecthings, we believe the key to easily access to all services in a timely way while on the move is to leverage contextualized real-time data (bus arrival times, traffic information, weather conditions, usage patterns…) to trigger the right service at the right moment.
As most of the mobile application don’t know anything about their users out of their own context: where they are, what they are doing, Connecthings collects these right moments – I am commuting, going out a specific location or simply walking in a city center- and repurposes them to the mobile applications.
To collect and repurpose the right moments, Connecthings is building a great developer platform, powered by machine learning and accurate real time location technologies through aggregating data from the cities to build dynamical contexts and by putting privacy first.
Connecthings is based in Paris, New York, London, Barcelona, Milan and Berlin. To learn more about Connecthings, visit www.connecthings.com
RATP Dev delivers best-in-class service to customers and their passengers, leveraging the expertise gained around the world, through the efforts of 60,000 global (5,000 in North America) team members, in 14 countries, over four continents, transporting more than one billion passengers annually.
At RATP Dev USA, our vision is to make distances feel shorter and bring people together. We believe in using innovation and technology to blaze a trail for “smart” transportation. We envision a transit eco-system where digital technologies and mobility merge smoothly, quickly, and simply to provide a seamless transportation network that helps boost the economy and improve quality of life.
BlindSquare is based in Helsinki Finland, with community members in 160 countries / 26 languages. BlindSquare is the World’s Most Popular accessible GPS-app developed for the blind and visually impaired. It describes the environment, announces points of interest and street intersections as you travel. In conjunction with free, third-party navigation apps it is a powerful solution providing most of the information blind and visually impaired people need to travel independently. BlindSquare is self-voicing, announcing points of interest, intersections and user-defined points through a dedicated speech synthesizer. The most important BlindSquare functions can be accessed through an audio menu via any headset or speaker that supports Apple’s music controller. This means you don’t need to touch the screen of your phone looking for tiny buttons when you travel with BlindSquare, because many functions can be activated using the physical buttons of your headset or bluetooth speaker. If you are blind or visually impaired, BlindSquare is your safe, reliable, and accessible GPS-solution. Now, with Connecthings, a world illuminated with information became larger with BlindSquare.
BlindSquare is available for iPhone and iPad in the App Store.