Decatur installs Bluetooth beacons for visually impaired downtown

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Decatur has partnered with Atlanta-based Foresight Augmented Reality to install Bluetooth beacons for the visually impaired on five downtown buildings. The beacons, when paired with the company’s mobile app gives, among other things, vocal directions to specific rooms, restrooms and elevators, along with descriptive information of entrances, exits, and hazard warnings.

There are currently 65 beacons installed throughout city hall, the visitors’ center, the police station, both recreation centers and also on various locations throughout the square. Each is about two by two inches and placed on or near a doorway.

The city pays a subscription of $6,000 a year to FAR, which maintains the beacons if damaged or stolen. The app is available on Apple and Android.

According to Downtown Development Manager Catherine Lee, phase one of the project is complete and fully functioning. Phase two gets implemented sometime next year and will include beacons at each fire station, the public works building and eventually local businesses like restaurants.

FAR was founded in 2016 and according to its website there are 7.3 million visually impaired people in the U.S.