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The Journey

How WayAround's Groundbreaking Technology is Changing the Lives of Individuals with Vision Loss

WayAround is the smart assistant for people who are blind and vision impaired. The mobile app and smart tag system has changed the lives of individuals with vision loss around the world.

Today, we’re explaining how WayAround’s tag-and-scan technology works, what makes it different from other assistive technology systems, and how people are using WayAround to improve their lives.

How WayAround’s Tag-and-Scan System Works

WayAround’s system relies on tagging and scanning items. You attach a smart tag – called a WayTag – to an item, then scan that tag whenever you need more information about that item.

WayAround WayTag Sticker SquareOur WayTags come in the form of magnets, buttons, clips, and stickers. The technology inside works exactly the same, and you would choose which type of WayTag based on where you plan to use it. WayTags can be attached to items in the kitchen, bathroom, office, and elsewhere. They can be placed virtually anywhere.

A helper can attach WayTags to items around the home and add information using the mobile app. Or a vision impaired person can tag known items and add information in the app themselves. Then, when the tag is scanned with the app, the information about that item is readily accessible.

Let’s say you have a shelf in the kitchen with 10 different types of canned goods. Typically, it’s hard for people with vision loss to identify canned goods by touch alone. With WayAround’s tagging system, you can use your phone to scan the item and hear an audio description.

How the WayAround App Works

The WayAround system relies on a free smartphone app. You can download the iOS app today from the iTunes App Store. There is also an Android app that is currently being beta tested and we expect to have a full release available very soon. The app is available in the Google Play Store.

The app uses NFC, or near field communication, technology to communicate with WayTags.Near Field Communication (NFC) Icon on smartphone graphic Other tagging systems rely on the camera, QR codes, and other technologies that can be less reliable or not as easy to use. WayAround, however, relies on Near Field Communication, or NFC, the same technology used in contactless cards, Apple Pay, and Android Pay.

With NFC, the individual with blindness just places their phone near the WayTag, and crucial information about the item will be read aloud by the WayAround app. There’s no need to line up a QR code or carefully position the camera. The app will detect the WayTag as soon as the phone comes within an inch of the WayTag. The app reads the WayTag faster when the phone is closer. It works best when it’s touching the WayTag.

WayAround Mobile App Image with descriptive information about Blue and White Striped Henley Shirt with shirt in backgroundOpen the app to customize details about each WayTag. You input details about any type of item, then scan a WayTag to save the information to it. You can choose a category (like clothing, groceries, personal care, or cleaning supplies), then enter any relevant details about that item. Categories include lists of common details like nutrition information, laundering instructions, and important dates.

You might add a description like “blood pressure medication” to a WayTag, for example, and then attach that tag to a pill bottle. You could add details about what time of day to take the medication, dosage instructions, or a refill date.

WayAround is optimized to work seamlessly with VoiceOver and TalkBack. When the app is in scanner mode, it will automatically read the details of any WayTag it comes into contact with. Every time the individual scans a WayTag using their WayAround app, the app will read the details for that item out loud.

WayAround is Compatible with Other Accessibility Devices

We designed WayAround to work with other systems used by individuals with vision loss. That’s why we’ve built WayAround with compatibility in mind. WayAround is compatible with accessibility settings on your smartphone, braille displays, and other accessibility devices.

The app also comes equipped with features like high-contrast colors, icons, and large font, making the platform accessible for anyone with any degree of vision loss, including individuals who are blind, low vision, vision-impaired, deafblind, colorblind, and sighted.

How it Works: Practical Uses for WayAround

Now you know how WayAround’s technology works, but how do people use it in the real world? What are the practical uses for WayAround?

One of the best things about WayAround is its customizability. The only limit to WayAround’s technology is the creativity of our customers! We’ve seen our WayAround system used in a number of ways, including all of the following:

Pills in a blister pack on yellow background

Labeling Medication: Individuals with vision problems may struggle to read labels – like the small labels on medical bottles. It’s easy to attach a WayTag to a pill bottle, and then customize the tag with crucial information about the medication, including usage instructions, expiration date, and more.

Identifying Items That Don’t Easily Fit on Braille Labels: Some items have names that are too long for Braille labels. ­Instead of trying to squeeze information into a Braille label, consider using a WayTag. We’ve seen customers attach WayTags to essential oils. Many essential oils have names that are too long for Braille labels, making our system an ideal supplement to Braille labels in this case.

Attaching Instructions to Household Items: Whether it’s a TV remote control, a tricky dishwasher, or a laundry machine, certain items in the home can be difficult to use. Use WayTags to attach instructions to complicated items.

Glass Jars of fruits, vegetables, and other food on two shelves in a cupboard

Labeling Food: We’ve heard plenty of stories of customers using WayTags to label food. WayTags can easily be attached to canned goods, for example, or added to leftover food containers in the fridge. You might label a food item with its expiration date, for example, or explain the contents in a can.

WayAround Has Improved Lives Worldwide

We’re proud to say WayAround has improved the lives of individuals around the world. Thanks to WayAround, individuals with blindness or vision loss can achieve a greater degree of independence.

An individual with an illness, for example, can identify their lifesaving medication using WayAround. Someone who likes to cook can navigate their kitchen and find appropriate ingredients. Someone who has trouble reading fine print can have instructions read out loud instantly.

With WayAround, a home can feel like a home again: our users can feel confident and safe when they’re surrounded by their tagged items and armed with the WayAround app.

Jessica Hipp

About the Author

Jessica Hipp email:jessica.hipp@wayaround.com

Jessica Hipp is marketing director of WayAround, overseeing marketing, communications, and community and partner relations. She loves innovative technologies that make the world a better place, and she caught the WayAround vision early on. Jessica brings fifteen years of marketing and public relations experience that spans non-profit, public, and corporate sectors, including several Fortune 500 companies. She has worked both in-house and with agencies, and she specializes in the technology and education verticals. Jessica lives with her husband and son in southern New Hampshire.

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