BlueEyes: Geolocation for people with reduced mobility
RATP is experimenting with a GPS-based underground guidance system that is unique in the world.
This system, known as BlueEyes, offers people with reduced mobility a way of getting around independently in the metro and RER networks. BlueEyes uses mobile telephones and beacons installed in the stations, using Bluetooth wireless technology. The experiment has now been expanded to other user profiles including the elderly, occasional transport users and tourists.
A dynamic guidance system
BlueEyes uses a network of Bluetooth beacons. These allow users to pinpoint their geographical location via a Bluetooth-enabled mobile telephone. No other specific equipment is required. The guidance service tells users the route they should follow through the corridors and passenger halls, in the same way as GPS systems guide motorists. BlueEyes does not currently give access to real-time information.
How to use BlueEyes
Users must first download the application to their mobile phone. They can then programme their journey in advance (from home or in the street) by entering a starting station and a destination station. As soon as they arrive at the entrance of the starting station, the user is recognised by the guidance system and receives directions via their mobile phone. They are guided step-by-step to their final destination, receiving voice and visual directions (direction arrows) each time they come within range of a Bluetooth beacon. Should the user make a mistake, the system will automatically redirect them. The user can replay the message from the last beacon if necessary.
Stages of the experiment
After an initial technical experiment in Franklin D. Roosevelt metro station, a second experiment was conducted in the first half of 2009 with the support of STIF, the transport organising authority. This took place in three metro stations (Iéna, Alma–Marceau and Franklin D. Roosevelt) and in the multimodal interchange hub at Charles de Gaulle–Etoile. This hub is home to connections between RER line A and three metro lines and has multiple entrances in the area around Place de l’Etoile.
With BlueEyes having been very favourably received by users who have tested it, RATP and STIF will be studying ways of funding its expansion to all metro and RER stations.
Positive user feedback
An evaluation of the BlueEyes trial was conducted in conjunction with the
Advisory Council on Accessibility, bringing together the principal associations
representing people with limited mobility. A specific evaluation was conducted
with the CNPSAA, the national council for the social inclusion of blind and
partially sighted people, with around thirty partially sighted people testing the
The visually impaired users who tested BlueEyes praised three qualities: the autonomy it afforded them, its ease of use, and the fact that it reduced the stress of using public transport.
- 76% of users were satisfied or very satisfied with the system
- 100% of these people said they would like to see the system expanded to all stations
The group of fully-sighted testers emphasised stress reduction, efficiency and ease of use as the system’s strengths.
- 100% of testers were satisfied or very satisfied
- 100% were very much in favour of its expansion to all stations.