An app designed to help visually or cognitively impaired people to feel more confident when travelling by bus is going under trial in six English local authority areas.
The trails will start in Milton Keynes and Reading and 'Talking Sign' developer React Technologies is releasing the product on the Google Play Store to gain early feedback from passengers.
Managing director, Robert Gard, told Transport Network that initial in-house testing with the Royal National Institute for Blind People 'is due for completion by end this week'.
The company is also liaising with visually-impaired support groups in the trial areas to ensure some 'systematic heavy testing' is carried out.
The Bluetooth-enabled system links at-stop and in-vehicle visual displays, installed by local authorities, with the app, which is downloaded onto travellers' smartphones to enable the activation of audio information during journeys. Headphones or earbuds can avoid users disturbing other travellers.
Optional features can alert a bus driver to the needs of a boarding passenger or react to 'needs profiling', for example to allow an autistic person who's got off at the wrong stop and feels disoriented to alert a carer for help.
Further trials are planned in Derbyshire, Essex, Poole and Wiltshire.