Revolutionary app for blind and partially sighted people launches at V&A Dundee
V&A Dundee, Scotland’s design museum, will host the launch of a new app today [Friday, December 9th] that could transform how blind and partially sighted people navigate and enjoy public spaces.
'MyEyes' is an award-winning app designed by Portuguese company IKi Technologies that will assist people navigating from the train station to and around the museum, as well as other popular spaces in the city. Indoors, 'beacons' placed beside points of interest will trigger a signal to the app to describe them.
Outdoors, the app can talk to the user out loud whenever it encounters a point via GPS and reproduce descriptions previously entered into the system. These descriptions can narrate what is around the individual while giving directions on how to go from one point to another.
Around 183,000 people are living with a significant degree of sight loss in Scotland, and two million across the UK. Trials of the MyEyes app have been taking place with groups of volunteer testers from national sight loss charity RNIB Scotland throughout the year.
Iki Technologies founder Filipe Silva said, "It has been a privilege to work with RNIB Scotland and V&A Dundee in this landmark project that has helped us to improve the MyEyes app for future applications.
"It was very important to have the RNIB Scotland focus groups and team tests with the ultimate users of the app, and their insights and recommendations have shaped new features that all visually impaired people will benefit from around the world.”
The V&A Dundee were the first venue in Scotland to host trials of the app. Peter Nurick, Communities Producer for Access and Inclusion adds, "We are delighted to have worked with IKi Technologies and RNIB Scotland to develop new ways of engaging audiences with our incredible building and collections.
"We strongly believe that sight loss should be no barrier to connecting with what V&A Dundee has to offer and the MyEyes app has helped the museum explore new technologies to increase the accessibility of our visitor experience. We are excited to launch this pilot, gather feedback and see how it can inform our commitment to accessibility in the future."
The app's creators have also been developing it for use in other spaces thanks to partnerships like ScotRail at Dundee's train station.
Miguel Matias, chief executive of Self Energy Ltd, the UK agent for MyEyes, said: "We have had the full support of RNIB Scotland and V&A Dundee to pilot a project that can impact on the inclusion of visually impaired people, contributing to one of the most difficult sustainable development goals that we are committed to pushing forward in the UK and abroad.
"It was these rewarding partnerships that enabled us, not just to complete this pilot at V&A Dundee, but also to expand it beyond the museum, so that the MyEyes App can be used to walk around the high-street, navigate the train station, and also other important locations such as the Science Centre and Botanical Gardens. This is a very good example how an initiative can expand the benefits for the surrounding community and make it a better and inclusive place for everyone, and for visually impaired people in particular."