SMRT rolls out app to help visually impaired commuters at Woodlands transport hub, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

SMRT rolls out app to help visually impaired commuters at Woodlands transport hub

An app that helps visually impaired people navigate SMRT's bus interchange at Woodlands Integrated Transport Hub (With) has been rolled out to the public after a trial that began last year.

The app, called NaviLens, has been expanded to cover all 14 berths at the transport hub, after a trial involving commuters and covering three berths.

The NaviLens app - which was designed in Spain - directs commuters to the berth they wish to board at, by detecting marker tags embedded in the tactile paving at the interchange.

SMRT said it will roll out the app to the rest of its bus interchanges at Bukit Panjang and Choa Chu Kang by the end of this year.

The transport operator introduced the app and its functions to the media at With on Tuesday (May 31). It is available for both iOS and Android users.

NaviLens require the use of accessible touch and a voice-over on smartphones owned by visually impaired commuters. They can approach the staff at the Passenger Service Centre to inquire which berth the bus they wish to board is at, or input the berth number themselves if it is not their first time at With.

All front-line staff at SMRT interchanges are equipped with skills to assist commuters with special needs.

Once the service staff or the user inputs the berth number in the app, the phone camera will be able to detect a coloured marker tag embedded in the tactile paving, which covers the entire With.

The app will read out information to the user, such as their current location and which general direction to move towards. The app is able to capture the tags from a distance up to 12 metres at many different angles and in a wide range of lighting conditions.

While the user is navigating their way, the app will also read out information on how much farther the berth is and when to expect the next tag.

Once the user reaches the berth, the app will let them know they have reached their desired location.

The NaviLens app was first trialled in June 2021, with SMRT partnering two social service agencies, the Guide Dogs Singapore (GDS) and Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped (SAVH).

Visually impaired clients from these agencies were used in the trial, allowing SMRT to get their feedback and refine the app to better meet their needs before the official launch.

Some of the improvements included the addition of a distance countdown to the destination point. For example, the app will inform the user to walk 10 metres before turning left, and so on.

The objective of the app is to not only make the public transport network more accessible and inclusive but to also offer the visually impaired a sense of independence.

Mr Vincent Gay, deputy head of SMRT Buses, said: "It is important that all commuters in Singapore, whatever their needs, can travel in the public transport network with assurance.

"Along with the inclusive service delivery training of all our front-line staff, the implementation of the NaviLens app is a key part of how we would like to make our bus services even more inclusive."

The NaviLens app will not be available for use at the Woodlands Temporary Bus interchange, which is situated beside Woodlands MRT station.