Keolis and Île-de-France Mobilités are testing NaviLens technology in Versailles

to facilitate journeys for visually impaired passengers, a first in France
19th May 2021

With the aim of making public transport more inclusive and accessible, Keolis is trying out NaviLens technology in Versailles, in the Paris region, until July 2021 with a panel of visually impaired users.

This technology is being used for the first time in France along the itineraries that connect the platforms of Versailles-Chantiers station, operated by Transilien (SNCF), to the platforms of the bus station, operated by Keolis Versailles on behalf of Île-de-France Mobilités.

"Augmented" QR codes are placed along the itineraries, making it possible to guide the passengers throughout their journeys, identify approaching buses and provide schedules in real time.

Placing innovation at the core of more inclusive mobility

Île-de-France Mobilités, the public transport authority of the Paris region, and its partners are committed to providing a welcoming, safe environment for everyone, especially those who have difficulty getting around in the region's public transport network. These improvements to passengers’ daily journeys cover the entire travel chain, offering better accessibility to information (before and during the ride), better access to network facilities and vehicles and taking into consideration the different needs of people with disabilities. The aim is to enable everyone to move around with the greatest possible autonomy.

In accordance with the regional priorities of Île-de-France Mobilités, Keolis is placing innovation at the core of more inclusive mobility, taking into account the fact that 80% of passengers possess a smartphone.

To this end, Keolis, in co-construction with Île-de-France Mobilités, the conurbation authority of Versailles Grand Parc, SNCF and the Valentin Haüy association – which acts on behalf of people affected by sight loss – is currently conducting an experiment at Versailles-Chantiers station, designed to help blind and partially sighted people become more independent when they travel thanks to the NaviLens app.

Facilitating passenger guidance with NaviLens technology

Already in use or undergoing trials on public transport networks in cities around the world, notably in Spain (Barcelona and Murcia) and the United States (New York, Los Angeles and San Diego), NaviLens technology is based on image recognition using "augmented" QR codes, placed along designated customer itineraries, and a smartphone app that provides voice guidance for visually impaired passengers.

Patented technology makes it possible for the app's users to capture the QR codes at considerable distances and wide angles. Once the QR codes have been scanned, users can benefit from the help of the app’s voice assistant to continue their journey, the voice assistant having told them how far away they are from the codes and the practical information those codes contain (description of a physical element, guidance indications, real-time arrivals of the next bus or train, etc.).

NaviLens technology can also meet the mobility needs of passengers other than those affected by sight loss, such as tourists hampered by language barriers, or passengers unfamiliar with the area: the NaviLensGO app can transmit the information encapsulated in the QR codes in augmented reality, in 33 different languages.

Tests with a panel of visually impaired passengers

In order to validate the NaviLens technology for future deployment by Île-de-France Mobilités, Keolis is carrying out tests on specific itineraries connecting the SNCF station and the Versailles Chantiers bus station, with a panel of visually impaired passengers.

Interviews will be conducted with the passengers to assess the quality of the itineraries and collect their feedback on ease of use and the increased autonomy they experienced. This assessment will be shared with Île-de-France Mobilités and the Valentin Haüy association.

Keolis' commitment to making accessible for all

Keolis Versailles has been collaborating with the Valentin Haüy association for several years, notably to raise awareness among Keolis Group employees regarding public transport accessibility issues and the need to improve customer journeys within the networks.

Committed to operating mobility solutions accessible to each and every one, Keolis Group is developing options in several networks to welcome, assist and inform vulnerable passengers, both in France and internationally.

Keolis is the leading transport provider in France for people with reduced mobility, operating the PAM75, PAM94 and PAM77 services in the Île-de-France region (as of 1 July 2021) as well as services in Bordeaux, Caen, Lille, Lyon, Orléans and Tours, among others. Internationally, Keolis also operates transport services for people with reduced mobility in the United States (in California and North Carolina) and Sweden (in Stockholm).

In 2020, Keolis provided 5,000 of its employees with training programmes on catering to the needs of people with disabilities.