Accessibility at Work: Apple Store in Germany
Chema Dec. 7, 2018
Outbarriers Consultancy In collaboration with Intesia, a German company of integral services, have developed a research and development project to improve the accessibility and integration of blind employees in the Apple Store in Germany.
Through the Contact form of Outbarriers, Marta @ Intesia contacted us asking if our technology could help solve a problem that one of her clients had: in Germany: Apple Store.
The problem that we faced was: a practically blind person (still has remnants of vision) had started working in an Apple Store so this worker had problems to move around the premises of the store.
Specifically there is a door that divides the customer service area and the warehouse. This door isn't very visible (camouflaged), besides weighing a lot and not making a noise.
The problem is that the door is frequently opening and closing and this worker moves around the store without a cane, although with the insecurity of not knowing if the door is open or closed.
Could we give them a solution by applying our experience and research?
To be able to give an effective solution, the first thing was to know well the needs of the client and how is their day to day in the store.
Intesia was in charge of interviewing the employee and transferring his inputs.
The challenge is summed up in using Outbarriers technology along with COTS technology to make known the employee if the door is open or closed directly from his iPhone and/or Apple Watch.
The main subproblems to solve were two.
On the one hand, it was essential to detect in real time when the door was closed or was open.
Then, that information had to be notified with a UI/UX specially designed for the scenario.
After a time of investigation, we found the solution.
The final architecture consisted of an app written in Swift with extension for Apple Watch 3, an Outbarriers beacon and an open/closed door sensor with integration to HomeKit.
The two IoT devices that are used use Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) to communicate with the iPhone and Apple Watch.
The app therefore integrates the Outbarriers SDK and the Apple Homekit SDK for open and closed door detection.
In the beginning, the asynchronous notification system that the Homekit API provided was used. But it had to be changed by polling because there was often a delay since the door opened or closed until the iPhone was notified.
To notify the user of the status of the door, we firstly choose a series of distinct beeps sounds.
Despite working, this solution is not 100% effective. The user wanted to know the status of the door.
Finally it is solved by incorporating a generator of synthetic tones into the app. In this way, when there was a change of state in the door, the tone generator changes the tone but always continuously, always listening to one sound or the other.
We want to express our gratitude to Intesia for their trust in us. It has been a pleasure to collaborate with them and offer this accessible solution.
We are very happy with the work and especially with being able to help in the integration of workers with functional diversity. That there are no barriers for anyone, neither to live nor to work.
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