Waymap is a free app that gives audio wayfinding instructions to help blind and low-vision users navigate public spaces.
Waymap creates a detailed digital map of the station environment and uses beacon technology to locate subway riders and guide them through the station. The app pinpoints the location of your phone and uses Voice Over to provide audio guidance to your destination within the station in multiple languages and instruction styles.
As part of the Accessible Station Lab pilot, Waymap is offering:
sample accessible and stair-based routes to and from the station entrance at Jay Street and Willoughby Street to the Manhattan and Queens bound A/C and F platform and the Brooklyn and Queens-bound A/C and F platform. Along the way, the audio will guide you to MetroCard Vending Machines and turnstiles, highlight information about Braille signs, and help direct you to the platforms. Further routes to and from the R platform and other entrances will be available over the coming weeks.
Once you’ve downloaded the app from the Apple app store on your iPhone 7 or newer, be sure to activate the Voice Over accessibility setting on your iPhone so you can hear the audio instructions in the app.
Waymap works by using the phone to sense how you walk and uses this to work out where you are standing and where you are facing, so it requires some preparation before it can begin guiding you. To do this you will need to wear the phone on the hip as you walk – either in your pocket or on a belt clip, but always put your phone in the same place when using the app.
Waymap needs to calibrate your walking style. When you first start to use Waymap you will be asked to set up a profile and, with the phone on your hip, walk one of the paths we have defined near the station entrances. You should only need to do this once. The profile name does not need to be your name and none of this information will leave your phone.
When you have set Waymap up and are ready to walk, the app will give you a few seconds to put the phone away: From then on you will receive audio instructions automatically; heads-up and hands-free!
Using Waymap for the First time
Apple will ask you to “Allow Waymap to access your location”
- Select either ”Only while using the App”, or “Always” as you prefer.
Create a profile
- Enter a name for this profile
- Select ‘Create’
This has created a profile that you will need to complete before you start navigating. You will need to be at the station to do this and may require some assistance – until then have a browse around the rest of the app. You can also personalize some settings for how you’d like to get about. When you are at the station and ready to calibrate.
- Select ‘Main menu’ (three bars icon on the top left)
- Select ‘Calibration Required’
Decide how you will carry the phone; in a hip pocket or on a belt clip and enter the approximate location. Remember which way round the phone will be and keep it the same each time. For example; screen facing out, top up and portrait.
- When Voice Over is on, this will be by hours on a clock face – with 12 O’clock to the front. The default is 3 O’clock (the phone on your right hip). 2 O’clock would be more likely if you were to place the phone in your hip pocket.
- Otherwise this will be a red slider which measures in degrees from your right side. The default if 0 degrees. It doesn’t need to be that accurate, your best guess will do: Waymap can refine the exact details as it goes.
The next step needs you to walk one of the predefined paths we have set up near the station entrances.
Jay St-Metrotech should appear in the location field at the top. If not, select it from the list.
Choose a calibration path from the list available. The paths are typically 30 to 60 steps long in a straight line along the sidewalk.
An ‘orientation’ instruction will appear in the field below. This will tell you where you will need to go to start the walk and where you will need to be facing. This is the bit where you might need some assistance.
• Go to that position and follow the orientation instructions.
Select ‘Start Calibration’
- Waymap will now count down from 7 while you place the phone on your hip.
- When it gets to zero Waymap will initialise the sensors in the phone. This can take a couple of seconds. You’ll hear a beep when this is done.
- After the beep, walk as you would normally along the path defined and stop when you get to the end. If you can, try and keep a count of the steps you’ve taken.
- When you’ve got to the end, leave the phone where it is and press and hold anywhere on screen
- Waymap will then tell you the number of steps you have taken.
If this number matches your own count and you are confident that you have started and stopped as instructed and walked in a straight line, this calibration is good and you are ready to use Waymap to get around. If not, you may want to redo the calibration run – getting this right will make your first uses of the app a better experience.
If you’ve not done it already, you can also input some settings to personalise the routing and instructions. Go into the ‘Settings’ section of main menu and work your way through the items as works best for you.
Where would you like to go?
Setting up is done, you are now ready to get around Jay St-Metrotech station. Where would you like to go?
Select the field and chose from the list of possible places on the list.
You will see all the platforms listed, the directions will take you to the accessible section of the platform, typically ready for the middle of the train. You will also see the exits and other waypoints listed too.
- Choose whichever destination you like.
You will then be asked to confirm the start point for your route. Waymap will estimate what this might be – but we are still on GPS at this stage and we know how inaccurate this can be.
- Choose the start point nearest you.
Waymap will calculate a route (according to your settings) and present an instruction to orientate you at that start-point.
- Follow the instructions, and when you are ready, start navigating.
- Waymap will now count down from 7 while you place the phone on your hip.
- When it gets to zero Waymap will initialize the sensors in the phone. This can take a couple of seconds. You’ll hear a beep when this is done.
- After the beep, walk as you would normally as directed by the instructions presented to you. Following the instructions
Waymap will trace your steps as you walk around and automatically present the next instruction. It will also work out if you go off the path and issues new instructions as you need them. Waymap’s instructions are created to meet the new American standard for audio-navigation. This means that instructions are given a few steps before you need to act on them and reminders provided along the way for longer sections. The routing supports your choice of mobility.
You will notice that the routes often take your across open spaces, without a shore-line to orientate you. Walk steadily and Waymap will keep you on the right path.
Finishing or pausing the navigation
When you are walking, Waymap will turn the screen dim and disable most touches. To stop, press and hold for a second or more anywhere on the screen. This will interrupt a route or complete a calibration. You can then pick up the phone and use the App as normal. What happens if things go wrong.
Place the phone consistently, walk steadily and follow the instructions and Waymap will get you there. If you think that Waymap has lost your location there are several things you can do. First: As long as it is safe to do so, keep walking in the direction that you have been last instructed. Waymap will keep adjusting its location information and will automatically correct as you walk. With persistence, it will catch up with you.
Second: When you reach an obvious waypoint, such as an information desk or elevator or you can reset the current location of the route to that waypoint and start again from that position.
Third. If these won’t work, retrace your steps until you get back to a previous waypoint. Either Waymap will find you again or you will be able to restart your navigation from this new waypoint.
Try Waymap Today!
Waymap is available for download on the Apple App Store!
What is Calibration and why do I need to do it?
Calibration is how Waymap learns how you walk, your stride length and how you carry your phone. You should only need to do this once when you first use it; after that it remembers for next time. To Calibrate, you need to walk one of the prescribed paths on Jay St. Make sure you are nearby when you want to do this.
How do I Calibrate Waymap?
Follow the instructions when you first start Waymap or follow the main menu. You will be prompted to chose a Calibration path. Make sure you know where to start and to stop. Then go to the start point and follow the orientation instructions from the phone before starting the Calibration walk. When you get to the end, try not to move your phone; just place your finger on the screen for two seconds and follow the instructions to save it.
Why do I need to place my phone in my hip pocket or belt clip?
Waymap counts your steps - like a fitness tracker but a lot more accurate. It also works out how big each step is and which direction it went. To do this, it needs to sense how your hip moves. Holding it in your hand or bag won’t work. The good news is that you don’t need to have the phone in your hand or up to your ear. Just remember to put it in the same place each time and Waymap will do the rest.
How do I get the instructions?
Waymap will give you audio instructions. You will need headphones that don’t block out your environment. You tell it where you want to go. It works out where you are and what instructions you need. You can choose how you want to hear distances or directions in Settings off the Main menu.
How do I make my routes ‘step-free’?
You can set your preferences to avoid stairs in Settings off the Main menu.
Can I go anywhere in the station?
Routes and their instructions have been specifically prepared between the station entrance at Jay Street and Willoughby Street and the AC/F platforms. Routes are calculated dynamically so you should also be able to get to and from any of the start and destination waypoints you find, though some of these instructions may be less clear.
Waymap is working too find dynamic ways to help people who are blind or low vision to more easily navigate public spaces. To learn more, visit https://www.waymap.org/.
Tell Us What You Think!
Throughout this pilot, our team at New York City Transit will be evaluating the features for operational performance, but the pilot’s success depends on you! To provide feedback on the Accessible Station Lab, use our web form and select Subways and Compliment (even if your feedback isn't positive--we want to hear it all!) from the drop down menus. Then select A Station and choose Accessible Station Lab, and tell us in the comment field which feature or features you tested and what you think. You can also call 511 and tell us what you think..