I am the CEO and Founder of Waymap, the world’s most accurate and inclusive navigation app. I have tried to use my lived experience as a blind man to help solve the navigation challenges faced by people with reduced mobility – wherever they live.
The current navigation and exploration apps available do not work for everyone, and do not work inside for anyone. This impacts the lives of 25.5 million people in the US alone who have mobility challenges. The result? They take, on average, 27% less journeys away from home than the general population.
In the case of blind Americans, those who do venture out, will only use around 2.5 routes regularly. This means that their world is limited to just going to the grocery store and the pharmacy, for example.
This represents a significant reduction in quality of life, with serious knock-on effects including mental and physical health issues. Although we all agree that freedom of movement is a right, this loss of the ability to explore freely is a challenge that can only be solved by an inclusively designed solution such as Waymap. Mobility is not a luxury.
Waymap combines the latest navigation technology with decades of experience with the wayfinding needs of blind people. That is the vision upon which Waymap has been founded.
Waymap’s Solution for Blind People
We are guided by the UN principle ‘Nothing about us, without us’ and we include our users in everything we do. In defining our app, we spoke to users across the globe who have mobility challenges, and asked: what would help them to live life the way that they want to?
We first published their responses by way of standards, firstly at the ITU (F921) and subsequently at the CTA (2076 and 2076.1) with the support of Verizon and many disabled groups and experts across the country. This feedback became the foundation on which the Waymap solution was built.
- In summary, the Waymap navigation solution:
- Offers turn-by-turn navigation both indoors and outdoors;
- is accurate to around 3 feet;
- works even when the phone loses all signals;
- is fully accessible and available in multiple languages;
- doesn’t require the installation of any infrastructure;
- is just one Smartphone App that works for Anyone, Anywhere.
So, Waymap is a precision navigation app that gets you exactly where you want to be. It works by loading detailed map information onto your smartphone, and combining that with our sensor fusion technology. This turns your phone into a very reliable, precision navigation device.
Waymap is an organisation that is driven by the principles of inclusive design, and having a huge social impact across the world.
Deploying on a Global Scale
Having carried out extensive trials around the world, we are now installing our app across the entire WMATA transportation system – a world first for inclusive design and navigation.The groundbreaking tool, in partnership with Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind, will significantly expand travel and community convenience for blind and visually impaired people in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. Plans are in place to continue to expand the app for those with hearing and other impairments.
Next, Waymap will be rolled out more broadly in phases. The goal of deploying the app at up to 30 Metro train stations and nearly 1,000 bus stops by September of this year. The app is scheduled to be working across the entire Metro system by early 2023.
This is still only the beginning. We envision a future where this technology is universal – in all indoor venues, transit networks and cities across the USA.
In order to achieve this, Waymap is working with important technology partners, such as Verizon. Verizon funded our most recent trial at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, and they are also exploring ways to leverage the new capabilities of their 5G network to improve our app.
The Waymap Mission
Navigation apps are essential to living in cities, exploring new places and living independently but don’t work for everyone and don’t work inside for anyone. Waymap’s app works for anyone, anywhere, and always will be free to the end user.
Our ambition is for Waymap to be available to everyone. If you want to make your building or organisation fully accessible, contact us and we will support your ambition.
When available in your area, download our app and donate your steps to make your area more accessible for those who have mobility challenges!