With six floors, two theatres, and over 16 auditorium doors, finding your way to your seat in the Wales Millennium Centre is no mean feat. With our UCAN GO app simply enter your seat details from your ticket and our app will route you to the right door.
We’re extremely excited that UCAN GO, made in collaboration with UCAN Productions, is now available as a free download from the Apple Store. UCAN GO is user led indoor navigation app designed to help you find your way around a building such as a theatre or museum. It’s your very own personal guide that will help you to get your bearings and find your way with ease.
How does it work?
Download the free app and you’ll hear overviews and route directions. The overviews help you to build a mental map of the building so you can prepare for your visit and the routing feature gives you step by step instructions to get you to your chosen destination. It can take you to your seat, the nearest toilet or other services such as bars or shops within the building. Each step is accompanied by an image on the screen that provides you with a reference point to ensure you’re always in the right place.
The app takes into account your preferences such as male or female toilets, route-instruction audio speed and whether you can use stairs. You can also choose from three user-friendly colour contrast options to easily change the look of the app.
What makes it special?
What makes this app groundbreaking is the application of smart routing algorithms within the context of a building, rather than a road system, and the fact that the entire concept, audio content and user interface was designed by young people who are registered blind. UCAN Productions are a performance and creative arts cooperative based in Cardiff who work towards making arts and culture more accessible to those with visual impairments and was last year awarded a grant by the Digital Research and Development Fund for the Arts in Wales (Nesta, AHRC and Arts Council of Wales) to make what is now the UCAN GO app.
For a year we have been working together and putting the app through its paces with multiple test groups of people both visually impaired and not. The result is an app that uses intuitive wayfinding principles and relies on nothing other than the user in order to navigate inside a building.
Why didn’t you use iBeacons?
As a company we’re no stranger to developing with iBeacons. The revolutionary technology (highlighted by Apple’s iOS7 release back in 2013) allows for precise indoor navigation through the deployment of beacons throughout a building. Similar to how a lighthouse warns ships of its proximity to land, the regular information they emit via bluetooth LE is picked up via a smartphone and transmitted to your app, informing you of your location. (Find out more about beacons here)
However, the deployment of beacons brings with it a second layer of maintenance and multiple opportunities for the app to not work. If the battery dies in one beacon, the app is then useless. Also, users will have to ensure their bluetooth is switched on their phone before entering a building which provides another barrier in user experience.
We wanted to create something that was reliable and foolproof. Once you have the app on your phone, it relies on no other technology to work. As well as keeping costs down for the venue, we hope this will result in a higher uptake of users.
Where can I use it?
At the moment UCAN GO can help you find your way around the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff and the Torch Theatre in Milford Haven. However, UCAN GO is a replicable service that can be installed anywhere. We have high hopes that cultural venues nationwide who value their patrons and wish to extend their accessibility, will embrace UCAN GO and wish to have their own venue app tailored specifically to them.
Find the links to download the app for iPhone below (with an Android release to follow). If you’re a venue owner interested in making your site more accessible, please get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org