Australian startup, BindiMaps believes infrastructure is inherently unfair for the blind and visually impaired.
“We started working specifically with people who are blind or vision impaired, because we saw that they can have horrible experiences navigating indoors,” says BindiMaps cofounder, Anna Wright.
“Nothing is developed for them.”
Indoor centres, stadiums, malls, movie theaters and other large venues may be enticing attractions for sighted people, but simply aren’t designed to help the non-sighted navigate around, she says.
BindiMaps aims to change that with an indoor navigation tool app for the blind that employs a simple, natural-language audio system to describe where users are, what’s around them and how best to get to their chosen destination.
The app’s navigation works from a network of bluetooth beacons, which triangulate the user’s position within an indoor venue.
With a sophisticated mapping and route guidance system similar to Google Maps, their proprietary algorithm reads aloud the areas of interest in close proximity and the directions to get to the target location.
From 2020 on, indoor wayfinding and accessibility are predicted to be two major growing trends.
Companies and venues, such as shopping malls, arenas and stadiums, are pushing harder to accommodate people with disabilities in order to increase their customer base.
But Wright says there’s a significant hurdle: many existing buildings weren’t designed with accessibility in mind, and the cost to remodel a venue to accommodate non-sighted customers is significant.
With this high-cost barrier, she hopes BindiMaps provides a solution to tap into a different customer base.
BindiMaps’ bluetooth beacons can be incorporated into existing structures, making it a cost-effective solution with the potential to pay a venue’s initial investment back through increased sales.
When implemented in a shopping mall, the app has the potential to turn a Point A to Point B journey into an opportunity to shop at the point of inspiration.
So far, BindiMaps has been implemented in over 20 locations across Australia.
The company has partnered with Guide Dogs, Vision Australia and the Royal Society for the Blind, and has plans to extend its coverage to sports stadiums and increase its accessibility for wheelchair users and customers on the autism spectrum.