Late last year, Bill Varney, our Rehab Worker based in Dundee, met with representatives from iKi Technology (www.iki.cool) based in Portugal, along with two of our service users who have a visual impairment, and representatives from other sight loss organisations to road test the MyEyes app. Bill explains further, “iKi technology were developing an app to work on smart phones, which could
enhance the experience for all in public areas and allow users to navigate more independently. Bill says, “The app is called myEyes and it enables visually impaired people the opportunity of navigating around a venue, the V&A in this instance, and being given a description and history of exhibits, which has
previously not been available. The app is available to download on IOS and Android but seems to be better with iPhones. Once downloaded, it is easy to access and use and everyone enjoyed the experience as it was being demonstrated and felt it had enormous potential. We were able to give some
feedback to inform the development of the app.”
MyEyes uses Bluetooth and GPS locator beacons which are set up around the venue and which send a signal to the app. The audible texts narrate what is around, while giving directions on how to go from one point to another. Users can hear the texts on their phone or use earphones to listen to descriptions
privately. Using the feedback from those involved in testing it, the app was tweaked further. Recommendations included speed of voice, intonation and relevance of information given to ensure it was succinct but sufficient for users. The app developers have been able extend the use of the app so it can be used in Dundee Railway Station, Dundee Science Centre and Dundee High Street. In December 2022, the app was officially launched at the V&A in Dundee through iKi technologies and RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People) with local dignitaries and interested groups, including Bill, attending. The launch of the app was well received now it has been updated with improvements and is also available in many languages.
The hope is that it can be extended along with other technologies to ensure those with a visual impairment can enjoy equal access to museums, art galleries and public buildings such as hotels, hospitals, and public spaces.
At the moment, the app only works in the V&A in Dundee and appears to be the only one of its kind in Scotland at present. The V&A is at the forefront, being keen to help make its exhibits as accessible as possible to everyone in the community. There is a short video on their website at https://iki.cool that explains how the app works.