"Don’t think outside the box. Think like there is no box."
A tech enthusiast, founder and Chief Technology Innovation Officer of Gwahali, a not for profit organization working for the support of visually impaired people creating technological solutions for the barrier free and right based society.
Sonika is a software programmer initially, now a project manager at MIC Nepal with more than 5 years of experience and loves to sing.
Dear Kieran, Thank you for the feedback. I have also read and studied about WayFindr and also been thinking of using the open standards that they have announced recently. I agree to the fact that there are challenges that come with the use of beacon such as battery draining. I have researched a bit on what kind of alternative do we have for the beacons and found that we can also get solar powered beacons and also the USB beacons. Solar powered beacons could be an alternative way to make it work since we have been planning to attach the beacon in the bus stop and bus itself. The London trials were done in the subway maybe that's why solar powered beacon usage was not possible. We really believe that despite the accuracy issue (which we definitely need to overcome), it will provide navigation assistance to visually impaired people. But, accuracy is the key towards successful implementation of this service. Thank you for valuable feedbacks :)
Dear OpenIdeo team and Respected experts, Thank you for the wonderful feedbacks.
After going through the questions from experts, I have categorized and answered below:
1. Business Model/Revenue Model:
a. Data Analytics: In our solution, we are using the Bluetooth-enabled device, beacons as a hardware, mobile as a middleware and cloud platform to monitor and manage the content and the interaction to gather analytics and measure results for the efficient administration of the hardware. The gathered data can most definitely be used to improve our solution however it will also act as a valuable asset to the government as we know that Data is the new oil.
The government has to make many investment and decisions for the better use of transportation system and these decisions can be heavily influenced by the transportation data which we are capable of generating within our solution. With the data sets generated in the process, we can do necessary analysis which can answer many transportation needs thereby improving the services and making our transportation system data driven.
What we plan here is to generate revenue out of the data collected, for the sustainability of Gantabya, the talking destination.
b. Contextual Advertising: By adding business partners to use our beacon networks to broadcast commercial messages for the app users.
c. Location based marketing and advertising: Adding to the contextual advertising, we can also do location based marketing to targeted audience as we are going to add GPS navigation services as well.
d. Donations from common people or interested organizations who finds our solution interesting and wants to support our initiative.
2. Maintenance and buying beacons, having hundreds of beacons, who maintains that?
With the revenue generated from the points mentioned in point no. 1, Gwahali will act as an implementing partner and will support the maintenance and repairing of the beacons. Beacons use very less power hence is capable of running on the existing battery for up to 2-3 years, however, we can also look for an alternative way and get solar enabled beacons or USB beacons. And, with the cloud platform, it enables us to do easy monitoring and maintenance of the beacons.
3. Can you explain how users will continue to be involved throughout the development, testing and scaling phases?
Since we believe in agile development methodologies, we would like to combine development and testing. While we develop the solution, we also keep on testing the system with the beneficiaries/users. We set a milestone/deadline for a feature to be completed and then set up a session for testing the solution with the user group and take feedback. Based on those feedbacks, we will keep improving our solution. For the scaling phase, we want to use the referral mechanism. What we started to 100 users, have potential to grow up to thousands of users with the same 100 users network through referral techniques. Referral mechanism might be a hit in the process since we plan to provide an incentive for each referral made.
4. Likelihood that the majority of visually impaired users will have access to smartphones?
In 2016 smartphone penetration in Nepal crossed 100% according to Nepal Telecom Company. To be honest, I do not have exact data on how many visually impaired people have smartphones, however during our research and surveys, we have found that most of them use smartphone which is also because we can buy it for less than USD 40. We definitely need to research more on this aspect.
5. What’s the follow up once info is disseminated using the beacon? Is this a conversation or one-way information given as the phone passes the beacon?
Beacon transmits data in one way direction, actually, the data is only the unique identifier that triggers the app in the phone, it's the phone app that interacts with the user with audio output.
6. Why can’t this system live outside of the phone/beacon idea and just be movement sensors that activate a speaker attached to the physical space when the user is close to them? In a brief discussion with a group of visually impaired individuals, some also referred to the fact that speakers can also act as a medium of information. However, when we ask them to choose between two (speakers and the mobile notification), they chose the latter. The reason behind this is, the mobile app gives them the benefit of control on their own hand and sometimes in the rush hour at a crowded place, the speaker might not be noticeable. Based on the user feedback and survey, we decided to choose this technology.
I am really very sorry for the late response and I hope I have answered your queries. I would be more than happy to answer more queries if any. Thank you again for the feedbacks. Very much looking forward to turning this idea into reality. Best Regards, Sonika Manandhar Nepal