Thanks to a mobile app, blind people will now receive valuable information regarding the establishment they wish to visit when they find themselves only a few metres away from it; a kind of “Trip Advisor for the blind”.
Renowned and touristy establishments such as the ice cream parlour Los Italianos, Chikito restaurant, Alhambra Palace Hotel, or the popular cake shop Casa Isa, famous for its piononos pastries, are only a few examples of the 40 establishments that are today “made visible” to all. They form part of the “The 40 essentials” programme with which the commercialisation of Outbarriers kicks off.
“Restaurant, mind the step at the door. The bar is on the left. Toilets are on the right”. This is an example message of what a visually impaired person will hear as they get close to the establishment. They only need to have the free Outbarriers app installed on their mobiles to receive these enormously helpful guidelines.
Outbarriers is a social project that was born in 2014 after winning the third prize at the Smart Society International Competition held in Seville. Since then, this prototype has become a real product thanks to the FI-C3 European start up accelerator programme, within the FIWARE European project framework that finances Outbarriers’ development and offers advice to its team of experts.
This project is born from the friendship of Adrian Martinez and JM Robles, two IT engineers, with Antonio, who is blind since the age of 14. Antonio, who was always complaining about how little help and even less technology they had available to simply go out for a walk, challenged his friends to do something about it. From now on, Antonio and thousands of other people with severe sight problems enjoy this audible information in the heart of the city of Granada.
The technology that makes all this possible is really quite simple. Each of the establishments need to install a small standalone device, similar to a bollard, at the entrance to their business. When the person gets close to the establishment, that person’s mobile detects the bollard that then reproduces the associated voice message. The bollard hardly needs any maintenance at all and its battery last for over two years.
The pioneering establishments that offer this innovative accessibility solution are located mainly in Granada’s historical centre. There is no doubt this provides the opportunity to make Granada a world reference of accessible tourism thanks to the added value delivered by the Outbarriers app. In addition, a collaboration agreement has recently been signed with the association Centro Comercial Abierto. This entity has over 300 members, so the “visible” establishments’ network will increase considerably.
Make yourself visible
Outbarriers is not only an app for blind people; it also encourages and needs voluntary work.
In our everyday lives, we encounter many obstacles on the streets: road works, holes in pavements, all sorts of architectural barriers, etc. Supportive citizens can contribute towards this cause informing about these barriers, in a very simple way, using the app. The obstacles are later revised and the competent authorities are informed about their whereabouts and nature. These critical spots, like for example some steep steps with no banister, can be signposted with a bollard that a business or person has previously donated.