Cities unlocked

A Microsoft UK, Guide Dogs & UCL project that uses digital technology to make physical spaces more accessible for people with visual impairments.

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  • Type

    Software system

  • Date

    Apr 2016

  • Client

    Microsoft UK

  • Status


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The highest-level objective for the Cities Unlocked project was to make urban environments more accessible to visually impaired users than it is currently.

There are almost two million people in the United Kingdom who are living with visual impairment [1] and not all visually impaired users suffer from 100% sight loss. Many can still see a certain percentage of what a normal adult can see.

Currently, there are many things that are put into the environment to aid visually impaired users in the outside world. Many of these technologies are quite analogue. From audio feedback at crossings to tactile paving, the current environment relies on the users to actively read their surrounding environment rather than the surrounding environment speaking to the user. The Cities Unlocked project transforms the environment and make it friendlier to visually impaired users with the aid of emerging technologies.

Ismail worked with a team of developers, to create the back end of a beacon management system. A system that allows management of beacons in the environment. He also created the forefront of their website and the beacon deployer mobile app. This application aids in deploying beacons to the environment. He was part of a team of architects for the beacon management system and working together, we integrated our solutions to meet the client’s goals and requirements.

We also helped visually impaired users navigate the urban environment using Microsoft technologies. Created a multitude of solutions using Bluetooth beacons to allow blind users to use a bone conducting headset and their phones to navigate their surrounding environment.

[1] Royal National Institute of Blind People - Key information and statistics.