SAN ANTONIO – VIA Metropolitan Transit has recently introduced NaviLens, a new technology system that aims to improve accessibility and usability for all riders, with a focus on those who are blind, have low vision or do not speak English. The system involves installing QR code-style signs at bus stops and transit locations across the city, with plans to implement 6,000 signs by next year.
When scanned with a smartphone and the free NaviLens app, these signs provide audio directions in real-time to help riders navigate to stops and buses. The app uses a phone’s camera to detect nearby signs up to 60 feet away and provides clear directions in over 34 languages.
Communications manager Lorraine Pulido highlighted the benefits of the app for non-English speakers, stating that it provides audio information in up to 34 languages. In addition to aiding navigation, NaviLens will also offer next-bus information and updates for more efficient trip planning.
The rollout cost over $600,000 and was federally funded as part of an effort to improve accessibility. By the end of 2024, San Antonio aims to be the first US city with systemwide adoption of NaviLens. Pulido believes that this technology will “revolutionize the way that people travel.”
Those interested in trying out the NaviLens app can find details on installation and use on VIA’s website.