In San Antonio, VIA Metropolitan Transit has introduced a new technology system called NaviLens to enhance accessibility and ease of use for all riders, especially those who are blind, have low vision or do not speak English. The innovative system involves installing QR code-style signs at bus stops and transit locations across the city, with a goal of implementing 6,000 signs by next year.
When scanned with a smartphone and the free NaviLens app, these signs provide audio directions to help riders navigate to stops and buses in real-time. The NaviLens app uses a phone’s camera to detect nearby signs up to 60 feet away and then provides clear directions in over 34 languages. This ensures that the technology can be used by a wide variety of riders, and not just those who speak English.
In addition to aiding navigation, NaviLens will also provide vital next-bus information and updates for more efficient trip planning. The over $600,000 NaviLens rollout was federally funded as part of improving accessibility, and by the end of 2024, San Antonio will be the first US city with systemwide adoption of this technology.
VIA communications manager Lorraine Pulido stated that this technology will “revolutionize the way that people travel.” Those interested in trying the NaviLens app can find details on installation and use on VIA’s website.