Over 40% of people with visual impairments in the UK are unable to make all or some of their journeys on public transport independently, which represents a substantial 2 million people.
Sight loss places a significant economic cost on the UK, estimated at £28 billion per annum, which could be alleviated by getting the right information to visually impaired passengers at the right time.
Unfortunately, the level of content rich, location-based information needed to create a solution is not possible with the current technologies on moving vehicles. Previous trials have failed due to the technology and infrastructure not being able to support the needs of the users.
Transport Accessibility looks to solve the problem of a lack of information for those who need more help when travelling on the UK public transport network.
It will provide timely and accurate information to passengers that need additional assistance while in a station or on the transport network. The focus is to allow the visually impaired to have more independence during journeys whilst travelling across the public transport network.
The project will use 5G to deliver information. Tertiary benefits in the future will include services such as live tv, live radio and streamed content across the network.
They are collaborating with the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) to create and deliver the solution and will conduct initial tests and provide feedback to optimise the solution during the trial.
Reduced latency of the 5G network will improve the speed of delivery of data to personal devices, improve current location tools and provide more data rich experiences that will be supported using the new technology.
5G’s increased capacity promises to improve accessibility services in stations throughout the network and also allow content to be delivered to vehicles efficiently. This will enable passengers to stream augmented reality (AR) location-based video content on a moving vehicle.
The total project length is 12 months, including developing the technology and undertaking laboratory tests, with a live trial on West Midlands Metro trams in Q1 2021.
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