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Moovit strengthens the independence of public transport for the blind

Moovit, the world’s # 1 mobility app, has partnered with WeWALK to allow blind and visually impaired users to navigate public transit independently.

Introduced in 2012 and acquired by Intel in 2021, the Moovit app developed by Israel is used by more than one billion users in 3,400 cities in 112 countries in 45 languages. WeWALK is a British startup that has developed an award-winning smart cane for the visually impaired.

Moovit’s technology allows WeWALK users to identify and navigate to the right bus stops and stations; access real-time arrival information; get live, step-by-step guidance for the entire trip; receive audio and text Get Off alerts; and get service alerts regarding changes and disruptions to their route.

“This is a very important partnership for us, as it aligns perfectly with our mission to simplify urban mobility for all and make it more efficient and sustainable,” says Luke Redfern, Head of Partnerships for the Kingdom. United and Ireland at Moovit.

“We discovered WeWALK earlier this year and it was clear that we had a common vision to make sure no one is left behind,” Redfern told ISRAEL21c.

According to the World Health Organization, there are approximately 253 million visually impaired people in the world, many of whom use a white cane.

Although the standard white cane helps users avoid obstacles at ground level, it cannot help them navigate higher obstacles and it certainly cannot help find the right bus or metro station or plan. the trip.

Use a WeWALK cane on the street. (Courtesy of WeWALK and Moovit)

This means that many visually impaired people simply do not use public transportation, making them dependent on others to get to where they need to go.

In fact, says Redfern, Moovit did a case study a few years ago in Toronto that found that many people with disabilities had stopped using public transit due to a change in the system. In cooperation with a nonprofit organization, Moovit produced a white label app to solve this problem.

But the partnership with WeWALK reaches all Moovit users everywhere.

“WeWALK created a smart box that attaches to the white cane and shares sensory information from the waistline and above using ultrasonic sensors and a vibrating handle,” says Redfern. It also has a voice assistant.

“We added to that, at no cost, a transport API that allows users of the WeWALK app to navigate to bus stops and get real-time information about the arrival of the train or tram, by more step-by-step guidance to get off at the stop on the right.

A Bluetooth connection to the rod provides extremely granular information. For example, the voice assistant can ask the user of WeWALK to “walk 100 meters in the direction of 3 o’clock”.

A WeWALK user in a subway train. (Courtesy of WeWALK and Moovit)

Redfern notes that Moovit is constantly improving its own app and already offers features designed for people with visual impairments, color blindness, manual motor impairment and mobility issues.

A wheelchair user can, for example, know if a particular bus has sufficient space for the wheelchair.

Mobility is a fundamental human right

“We believe mobility is a fundamental human right,” says Redfern.

“We have spent the last 10 years investing heavily in making mobility accessible to everyone. So it makes perfect sense that we work with WeWALK to improve services for people with disabilities, ultimately providing better access to employment, education and social opportunities.

Jean Marc Feghali, Head of Research and Development at WeWALK, said WeWALK’s mission to create life-changing mobility tools is a collaborative process with leading partners.

“A prime example is the provision of efficient, usable and reliable access to public transport data. The experience of the WeWALK team with visual impairment only makes this need more apparent, a solution more critical and our promise more personal, ”said Feghali.

“Moovit’s partnership with WeWALK is an extraordinary step forward in fulfilling our mission and promise of uncompromising mobility for the visually impaired. “

Next summer, Moovit and Mobileye – two Israeli companies acquired by Intel – will launch MoovitAV, a six-passenger, road-ready electric autonomous vehicle (AV) for commercial driverless limousine services in Tel Aviv and Munich.

Produced in association with ISRAELL21c.

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