Eugene Gao is set to design a new subway navigation system that would rely on Bluetooth beacons to guide blind passengers between stations. Gao came up with the idea for the project after reading about a beacon navigation system being implemented in the San Francisco International Airport. He then observed how this technology might be useful in the New York City subway to help those who suffer from visual impairments.
Gao's project is called 'Lantern' and it is based on the idea of using Bluetooth beacons to guide blind passengers. The beacons would only be the size of a bottlecap and they would use battery power to send information to a user's smartphone. The beacons would be scattered between subway stations so that when a user is in range, information would be sent to the app to safely guide them to the nearest platform. Laterns would also help to keep the visually impaired safe by emitting a high-pitched alert if the user came too close to the edge of a subway platform.
The subway navigation system could not only help keep blind New Yorkers safe, but it could also empower them to navigate the city more freely.