Australian startup BindiMaps is revolutionising the way people who are blind or vision-impaired experience large indoor spaces with an app that facilitates simple navigation in indoor locations, like shopping centres. Stockland Burleigh Heads is the first shopping centre in Queensland to use the BindiMaps technology, which is optimised for the vision-impaired community and uses a network of Bluetooth beacons installed throughout the indoor environment. BindiMaps applies everyday language to verbally guide users via their smart phones to their destinations.
BindiMaps was installed earlier this year at ISPT’s Barkly Square and Sydney’s Stockland Wetherill Park. Founder and CEO of BindiMaps, Dr Anna Wright, said BindiMaps was proud to be working with Stockland, one of its first major clients, and was encouraged by Stockland’s enthusiasm to adopt the innovation first in New South Wales and now in Queensland.
“While BindiMaps can enhance the shopping experience for any customer, it completely changes the way people with a vision impairment can safely and independently access indoor spaces. Before BindiMaps, a person with vision impairment would need significant help from others to be able to do something most of us take for granted, such as accessing a local shopping centre. But now, even someone whose sight is very limited or non-existent can find their way around much more independently, even if they are unfamiliar with the space”, said Dr Wright.
“This is a significant milestone for our startup and will pave the way to BindiMaps being rolled out at other major facilities around Australia,” she said.
BindiMaps is currently in a number of installations including The University of Technology Sydney, TAFE NSW’s Ultimo campus and the Adelaide Central Market in Adelaide. In addition to shopping centres, the technology can be applied inside any major precinct, such as university campuses, airports and office buildings. The only other Queensland location that has rolled out the technology so far is Griffith University.
Brad Wallis, Centre Manager at Stockland Burleigh Heads, said that this is just one more way the centre is committed to providing a better customer experience for the community.
“This innovative wayfinding system will open up a whole new world of discovery for customers with vision impairments. It’s inspiring to see technology such as this one improving the lives of our customers in such a meaningful way”, said Wallis.
Wallis continued: “It removes significant pain points for people with a vision impairment when navigating a shopping centre – from locating entry/exit points and amenities to finding new or relocated stores.”
BindiMaps has developed the app with the help and expert advice of Guide Dogs, Vision Australia and many users who are blind or have low vision. Guide Dogs Queensland General Manager Client Services Elisha Roberts said shopping centres could be incredibly busy and complex environments to navigate for people with a vision impairment.
Roberts said, “This type of wayfinding and navigating technology complements the orientation and mobility services Guide Dogs Queensland offers to clients, which helps them navigate their environment independently and confidently. Any technology or program that helps the blind and vision-impaired community to feel confident in their community is a step in the right direction.”
The launch of the app was featured on Channel 7 news Brisbane: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=1022602044787063