Mobile Onboard to trial 18-year-old’s wristband concept for blind bus passengers

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A product to assist blind and partially sighted bus passengers in knowing when their bus stop is coming up, which was developed by a Nottingham student, is being trialled by a technology company, the Nottingham Post has reported.

Daria Buszta, 18, developed a vibrating wristband concept called ViBus, which alerts people with hearing and visual impairments to their bus stop.

A prototype was designed after Daria won the All Aboard competition, a national technology competition backed by the Department for Transport (DfT) and run by technology firm Transport Systems Catapult. The competition was open to 14-18 year olds who were tasked with designing a system to assist blind and partially sighted passengers which would cost less than £1,000 per vehicle to implement.

Southampton-based Mobile Onboard is the company which is trialling the product. If it is successful, it could be developed and sold commercially.

Daria said: “Seeing the wristband in action felt surreal.

“Thinking that it was once just an idea in my head and now it was actually working and has got to this stage made me very happy.

“I really hope that it will help people and it was nice to see that all the hard work that has been put into it by so many people is paying off.”

The wristband works by using a Bluetooth connection with the bus and vibrates when a passenger approaches their stop. The trial was hosted Heanor-based Yourbus.

Transport Systems Catapult All Aboard Principal Technologist, Jamie Chan-Pensley, said: “It’s been an amazing journey from Daria presenting her idea at the All Aboard competition last year to this live trial of the device.

“The project is proof that even simple technological innovations can really change people’s lives for the better and we are grateful for the support of all the businesses and organisations who have contributed to get us this far.

“We’ve received some great feedback from the trial and we hope we can take the project to the next level, where we can supply these devices to the members of the public who need them.”

The RNIB and Guide Dogs charities have supported the trial.

Steve Tyler, Head of Solutions Strategy and Planning at RNIB, said: “Bus travel is a lifeline for many people with sight loss who rely on buses to take them to work, the shops of just to get out and about with friends.

“However, we know that barriers to travel and transport remain a major issue for blind and partially sighted people.

“Technology has an important role to play, along with good customer service from bus companies and drivers, and it’s great to see accessibility being built in from the start through exciting new ideas like these wristbands.”