Journey's Unlocked


Inclusive On-board Experiences through Digital Augmentation (Delivered in partnership between Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, Microsoft, Pointrlabs, and Virgin Trains East Coast) The number of people living with sight loss is expected to reach four million by 2050 and, as a charity, Guide Dogs is committed to developing new ways of enabling people with sight loss live with freedom and confidence. The development of SMART Travel and Transport networks combined with digital technologies provides a unique opportunity for us to help shape the future for all those that find themselves excluded from society to enable people to travel easily between different areas, increasing wellbeing and confidence. This project aims to facilitate truly end-to-end journeys for visually impaired customers travelling by rail. It brings together a number of compelling transformative innovations - 3D soundscape technology, indoor navigation, and intelligent sensors - in a world's first proof of concept combining real-time presence related information based on location which is enhanced through 3D spatial audio to enable passengers and crew to enable a person to naturally and intuitively map their position without the encumbrance of reverting to a phone which is disruptive and a cause of inconvenience to other passengers seeking to make their way to their seat. In a real-time environment indoor navigation beacons will be installed at two UK railway stations which will be supplemented by tracking technology onboard a train service, enabling end-to-end navigation between two Guide Dogs regional offices. Integration with the 3D audio-rich technology will allow visually impaired passengers to be guided through the whole journey from the office to the station, onto the train, during the train journey, and off the train to the final destination. The incorporation of additional intelligent sensors will facilitate a richer experience to alleviate moments of anxiety associated with findings one’s seat, locating the buffet cart, knowing if the toilet is occupied etc. It is hoped that this innovation will empower and encourage more visually impaired people to travel by rail, increase their independence, and reduce well-known sources of anxiety associated with rail travel. The proof of concept will lead the way for onboard navigation technology and future research in this area.

Lead Participant

Project Cost

Grant Offer

Guide Dogs for the Blind Association(The), Reading £350,000 £ 350,000


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