Media release | 5 June 2018
When the BanjoMaps founder Anna Wright was diagnosed with a rare eye condition and told she would eventually go blind, it not only changed her life but drove her to help others with visual impairment.
With the assistance of a $25,000 Minimum Viable Product grant from the NSW Government-backed Jobs for NSW, Ms Wright developed BanjoMaps, which helps people with visual impairment navigate internal spaces like public buildings and shopping centres.
Deputy Premier and Minister for Small Business John Barilaro said BanjoMaps was a fantastic new technology that had the potential to be exported globally with great positive impacts for the visually impaired.
“Indoor signage is predominately visual, which can sometimes be difficult for visually able people to use let alone someone with a visual impairment,” Mr Barilaro said.
“But this new technology has the potential to provide the visually impaired with new confidence to get on with their daily lives in buildings and businesses.”
Wright said the realisation of what her life might be like made her aware of how difficult it is for the visually impaired to navigate internal spaces.
“There are enormous amounts of anxiety for people with visual impairment when they are entering unfamiliar spaces, and we haven’t changed the way we navigate internal spaces for the last 20 years as the tech has not been there to do it.
“But over the past couple of years the tech has exploded. This new app is like Google Maps for the inside and directs people using voice and haptics feedback.
“There is nothing like BanjoMaps in the market as it uses beacons, cloud and sensor technology to navigate through unfamiliar spaces. The beacons are little battery operated boxes installed in the building that your phone can recognise.”
Ms Wright said the company had been working with Guide Dogs NSW/ACT from the outset and was now running a pilot with UTS.
“We are also discussing another pilot with ANZ Bank to run after the UTS pilot.
“There are people who do wayfinding but none of them can do what BanjoMaps does. All of this would never have happened without the support of Jobs for NSW.
“We would like to see our beacons in the construction code in every new building because it will also improve safety and help emergency services.”