All McDonald's in Israel install beacons to help the visually impaired
RightHear, an app-and-sensor-system for the blind, will help locate a store, order a Big Mac and much more.
When co-founder Idan Meir launched a startup called RightHear in March 2015, he and his team intended to turn large, complex spaces into accessible environments for the visually impaired.
"Hotels, shopping malls, airports, etc.," explained Meir, who previously founded Hubanana, a leading nonprofit hub for startups. "We thought that the bigger the indoor space is, the more difficult it would be to find your way inside of it for the blind or visually impaired users of ours."
Turns out they were wrong.
"The truth is that it doesn’t really matter ... the size of the space," Meir said. "The difficulty to [orient] indoors for a blind or visually impaired person – in a large or a small environment – remains the same. ... The helpless feeling of, 'Where am I?' And, "where is everything?' remain the same feeling."
So they started to think about small environments that are well-distributed across the country, he said. McDonald's, naturally, came to mind.
After months of development and planning, RightHear has installed their system in all 180 McDonald's stores in Israel. It's now the first chain in the country to do so. RightHear is also implemented in some 800 venues worldwide, Meir said.
The system has three key components:
- Accessibility spot: A tiny, smart, self-powered sensor that uses Bluetooth technology to detect whenever a user is nearby.
It can be easily installed anywhere, indoor and outdoor, and can typically be found near entrances, restrooms, elevators, stairs or any other point of interest in the venues.
- Mobile app: Packed with information about the venue such as hours of operation, services, nearby obstacles, venue description and special events. It also includes points of interest nearby with clear details about their direction and distance.
- Content management platform: Allows the venue’s owner to manage the fleet of accessibility spots and easily edit the accessibility information in real-time.
In developing the technology for McDonald's, Meir said he was impressed by the company's commitment to finding solutions for its visually impaired customers. Part of that commitment, he said, lies in the fact that the chain employs a large number of people with disabilities. Some of those people worked on the collaboration with RightHear.
"When inclusion is a strong part of your company’s DNA, you hire the best talents regardless of ethnicity, disabilities, gender, religion or anything else," he said.
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