31 May 2022
SMRT Buses launches full implementation of NaviLens,
a first-in-Asia app for visually impaired to travel with greater confidence
1. As part of SMRT’s continual efforts to make the public transport network more inclusive and accessible for all commuters to travel with greater confidence, SMRT Buses has officially launched the full implementation of the NaviLens app to aid visually impaired commuters in their navigation at the Woodlands Integrated Transport Hub (WITH). Since May 2022, the NaviLens app has been extended to cover the whole of WITH.
2. SMRT is the first – and so far only – public transport operator in Asia to deploy NaviLens. By the end of 2022, NaviLens will be rolled out across all SMRT-operated bus interchanges.
3. Designed in Spain, the app is activated when a user’s mobile phone camera scans a coloured marker tag, called the ddtag. Through the app, the phone will then read out to the user information such as general direction and current location. The app can capture the tags from a distance up to 12m at many different angles and in a wide range of lighting conditions.
4. SMRT trialled the app in June 2021 in some areas of WITH when it opened for operations. To fine-tune the user accessibility of the NaviLens app, we collaborated with two social service agencies, the Guide Dogs Singapore Ltd (GDS) and Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped (SAVH), for tests in real-world situations. This resulted in various refinements before the official launch.
5. Improvements include the reduction of clutter (if a destination is chosen, other tags containing other information will not pop up to prevent overloading the user with information); the addition of a distance countdown to destination points (eg, 10m left before turning left); and the inclusion of ddtags at the destination points, to inform the user that he or she has reached their destination.
6. Mr Vincent Gay, Deputy Head, 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 frontline staff, the implementation of the NaviLens app is a key part of how we would like to make our bus services even more inclusive. We are grateful for SAVH’s and GDS’ partnership, support and endorsement in our commitment to build a more inclusive public transport network.”
7. Mr Chia Hong Sen, Trainer and Consultant (IT and Accessibility), Guide Dogs Singapore Ltd said: “NaviLens is a novel solution to indoor wayfinding in Singapore and has the potential to vastly improve the accessibility of public transportation in areas such as bus interchanges and MRT stations. We hope to see the solution implemented in more locations in the future, enabling more vision impaired commuters to travel independently.”
8. Mr Chong Kwek Bin, Head of Employability & Employment and Advocacy, Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped said: “SAVH is happy to see SMRT’s continued commitment to the partnership it has forged with us over the years to build an inclusive public transport system for the visually impaired. SMRT is a role model to others in its willingness to expend special effort for the benefit of the visually impaired, and even more so in its understanding that, in order to build a solution that will work, it must talk to the users, and the organisations which best understand the users. We look forward to further developing this product with SMRT, and other collaborations with SMRT and other like-minded entities.”