NaviLens app

Benidorm wants to be a reference destination for visually impaired tourists

Benidorm wants to be a reference destination for visually impaired tourists

Authorities are developing a plan to install NaviLens codes to ease orientation

Tourism is often about finding yourself in a new place and in unfamiliar surroundings, getting outside of your zone of comfort and giving yourself to exploration. But what if you cannot see?

The Municipality of Benidorm, on the eastern coast of Spain, does not think that travelling and exploring new places should only be available to people who can see but to everyone else as well. Its mayor, Toni Pérez, announced that his administration has applied for a subsidy from the Valencian regional government in order to implement a marker system in the central part of the town that will help visually impaired visitors orient themselves better.

In order to make that possible, authorities will make use of an innovative mobile app, that was developed not that far away, in Murcia, called NaviLens, which works similarly to QR codes but has the ability to scan them from further away and without stopping or focusing.

This is part of the grander Universal and Tourist Accessibility Plan of the resort city

NaviLens was developed by Neosistec in collaboration with The Mobile Vision Research Laboratory at the University of Alicante and has already been implemented at the public transport networks in major cities such as New York, Madrid and Barcelona. Benidorm, being a major summer destination on the Levantine coast, is attuned to the needs of tourists and its authorities are constantly thinking of ways to improve their guests’ experiences there.

NaviLens has been designed to recognize specific colour code signs from a distance of between 4 and 15 metres without the need for the smartphone holder to stop moving and focus on the image. Once the sensor detects the code it geo-references it and converts the data into audio information so the phone user can hear what is important to know about this location, which might be an indication of the subway entrance, the next train to arrive or historical facts about a street or a building.

The first phase of the plan in Benidorm provides for placing these codes on the streets of the old town. The total budget previewed for the operation comes up to nearly 40 000 euros, half of which will be provided by the local government.

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