BLE Beacons Use Cases for Disabled People

Micro-location use cases with Bluetooth beacons are lot limited to the retail environment and to marketing targets. Two use cases in United Kingdom and Romania are demonstrating the versatility of presence and micro location in scenario such as banking or transport.

Speaking this week at a LBS conference in London, Kathryn Townsend, responsible for the accessibility program at the British bank Barclays, highlighted their use of iBeacon technology to help their customers with special need.

First trialled at Barclays Sheffield branch six months ago, the Beacon service called Barclays Access, notifies staff when a customer with an accessibility need (with sight, hearing, speech disabilities) enters the branch.

Visitors are able to opt-in to the service by supplying information about their requirements via an iPhone app without needing to state their requirements again and again when they do some banking interaction.

Barclays Access also allows customers to upload a photo, allowing staff to identify them as soon as they enter the premises which makes the customers interact easily with the staff if they find any difficulties.

Bucharest transport system

A few days ago an initial fleet of 40 buses and trolleybuses circulating in Bucharest, Romania have been fitted with bluetooth beacons as part of a total roll out of 500 beacons expected later this summer.

These beacons will guide people with visual disabilities to independently use the Bucharest public transport network.

The use case is built along the following steps. The user leaves from home after setting the mobile application (Android or iOS) to follow the bus lines that are covering the route he wants to move on.

Then the bus (equipped with a uniquely identified iBeacon) approaches the station where the user is already waiting. The iBeacon installed on the bus continuously emits a radio signal, at a steady standard frequency.

When the vehicle is approaching at a distance of 50â€?60 meters (depending on the surroundings), the user’s mobile phone receives a notification saying that the wanted bus is coming. The notification is delivered with a specific audio signal and the voiceâ€?over application on the phone reads the notification’s text to the user.

When the bus arrives in the station, a buzzer, located in the iBeacon enclosure, will repeatedly broadcast a Beep signal, knowing from the mobile application and the cloud platform that a passenger interested in that bus line is in the station. Thus, the user can precisely identify the desired bus, if more vehicles arrive simultaneously in the same station.

After the user goes on the bus, notifications and buzzer sound signals will automatically stop. The process repeats when the person reaches another bus station and notifies the application that he expects a vehicle from another transit line.


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