To improve independence for visually impaired people, Keolis is trialling NaviLens technology at Versailles-Chantiers rail station in France. This easy-to-use smartphone app combines voice guidance and a QR code reader, with codes located along a dedicated route through the station. This inclusive initiative — a first in France — is being conducted in partnership with Île-de-France Mobilités, Versailles Grand Parc, SNCF and nonprofit organisation Valentin Haüy. We join one NaviLens user on their journey…
#1. Easy, ultra-fast QR code detection
NaviLens is a simple, user-friendly mobile app. Simply hold your phone upright in front of you, or around your neck. The camera automatically detects the large, coloured QR codes up to 15 metres away, with no need to point it at them directly. The voice assistant then tells you how to find your way. For example, from outside the station, it says: “To enter the station, start by following the tactile guide strip on your right until you reach the ticket gates, then scan the code on the floor near your feet”.
#2. Clear and precise voice prompts
Based on feedback from passengers, all the necessary guidance has been carefully thought out and included in the app — from static information like location, direction and name of line and next stop to dynamic information such as real-time timetables, next bus arriving, service disruptions and events. Pierre, who uses the service, said: “NaviLens means you don’t need to have a guide with you. It gives you more independence. You can travel freely”.
#3. An easier, safer station experience
At the foot of a staircase, for example, NaviLens detects the QR code. The voice assistant says: “19 steps to climb, then continue to follow the handrail”. A short prompt, but it makes a big difference for anyone with a visual impairment. Did you know that in France there are 1.7 million visually impaired people, including 207,000 blind people? For these passengers, navigating a station can be a real obstacle course.
#4. Inclusive intermodal technology
Versailles-Chantiers bus station, just across from the rail station, has also installed the NaviLens system. This makes it easier for a lot more people to make intermodal connections for their onward travel.
NaviLens is a patented technology for inclusive mobility. It combines a QR code reader, with a detection range of 15 metres, with voice guidance and a user-friendly interface. Available in 33 languages, NaviLens can assist people with all types of disabilities, as well as vulnerable travellers such as seniors and tourists.