The smart tag on a Barcelona bus stop, Source: TMB

Barcelona’s public transit leads the way in smart tags accessibility

Barcelona’s public transit leads the way in smart tags accessibility

The first city in the world to offer such widespread digital service

TMB, the metropolitan transport operator of Barcelona, announced today that it has become the first in the world to signpost the entire subway and bus network with smart tags (ddTags), which drastically ease the travelling experience of visually impaired commuters. That means that 9,100 multicoloured and scannable codes have been placed in the 161 metro stations, 2,600 bus stops and multiple other lobbies, sales points, ticket validators, stairs, lifts and platforms – anywhere where a smartphone can detect them without a hindrance.

These tags can provide useful info and entertainment to everyone

The ddTags are somewhat similar to QR codes, with the difference that they also feature colours. Otherwise, their purpose is the same in that they serve to interact digitally with smartphone users, as long as there is an Internet connection.

These tags were designed by the Spanish NaviLens startup, which also has an app aimed at the visually impaired. The goal was to create a code that would be also accessible to people even if they would not know where exactly it was located. These codes can be detected 12 times farther than QR codes and from a 160-degree angle reading without the need to stop and focus or zoom on them. In a way, they allow smartphones to become the person’s eye.

After initial trial runs, TMB conducted a series of info sessions in order to better acquaint members from the visually impaired community with the new system and the benefits they can derive from it. These include things like the name and code of the stop, the lines that pass through it, the destination of each one, the expected time of arrival and possible alterations to the service. The app can also take the different elements into consideration in order to calculate the distance from a person’s position to other points so that he or she can have more autonomous freedom of movement and decision making.

TMB also informed that the codes can also be scanned by people who are not visually impaired by using the Go feature of the transport service app. Apart from data related to public transit, it will offer current news, audiobooks, the city’s cultural agenda, English lessons, promotions and regards from the JoTMBé points program, and more.



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