iBeacons: Next Gen O&M Tool

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iBeacos provide audible information: "Main Street Station Bus Stop" and "Main Street Escalator Entrance" as pedestrian travels.

Tech savvy Orientation and Mobility instructors and students are familiar with using GPS apps for navigating sidewalks and streets.  The latest O&M related-tech projects are focusing on indoor navigation and providing signage information - information that is available through text or images on a sign.  "iBeacons" are being used to provide indoor navigation information and signage information.  So, what is an iBeacon and how does it work?

An iBeacon is a Bluetooth-based device that can broadcast location-based pieces of data within short distances.  Typically, the data is received by a smartphone.  iBeacons can be used for many purposes, including O&M-related information for travelers who are visually impaired.

The animated video below demonstrates a variety of information that can increase independent travel, especially when navigating unfamiliar environments.  In the video, the pedestrian uses customized narrative iBeacon directions that provides real-time support as he travels both outdoors and indoors.

For more information about the iBeacon system shown in the video above, go to Click and Go Wayfinding.

Just like there are several different GPS apps created specifically for travelers who are visually impaired, there are several different groups working on O&M-related iBeacon projects. Click and Go Wayfinding, BlindSquare and BeAware are companies that use iBeacons for O&M purposes.

The video below follows a dog guide user traveling on a sidewalk to the North Carolina Museum of Natural Science; the video continues as he seamlessly travels inside the museum which has been outfitted with iBeacons paired with the BlindSquare app. For more information about this iBeacon project, go to the post, Indoor Navigation at the Museum of Natural Sciences.