Strange RNIB Gadget

Thursday, August 31, 2006 20:46 | Filed in Accessibility, Life, Local Interest

Strange RNIB Gadget

I came across a rather strange looking gadget at Monument metro station in Newcastle the other week. It was near the lifts (I was avec pushchair, otherwise I’d probably never even have seen it). It was a black box about eighteen inches to two feet long by about eight to ten inches wide. It had a blue light, and an RNIB logo on it.

What it was, and what it was for were a different matter altogether.

As you can tell, I took a low-resolution picture of it on my phone, which is floating right here somewhere (pun intended — and yes, I do know it was terrible), so I thought I’d try and find out what it was. A quick search around on the internet revealed precisely bugger-all, so I decided to ask the RNIB, thinking they’d know.

They did know what it was but weren’t so sure what it was called

The gadget that you saw is a way finding device — possibly called Wayfinder — which RNIB was involved with but is no longer. Essentially, the user would wear a headset attached to a small receiver similar to a tape recorder which would pick up information from the Beacons and transmit this to the user in the shape of audio instructions. For example, “For exit to X Street, turn left, for toilets turn right and for the ticket office walk straight ahead”. RNIB

So now I know. Of course, now I’m intrigued as to how long it has been there in Monument metro station without me noticing it, and how many other ones we have dotted around Tyne & Wear. And I’d still like to know for definite what it’s called!

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26 Comments to Strange RNIB Gadget

  1. Stephen Black says:

    September 1st, 2006 at 9:07 am

    The system is called REACT

  2. Mike Cherim says:

    September 1st, 2006 at 5:28 pm


  3. Ray Habens says:

    February 26th, 2007 at 6:43 pm

    I recently noticed these boxes in Portsmouth so thanks for putting my curiosity to rest.

  4. Siobonne Brewster says:

    March 19th, 2007 at 8:35 am

    This is an RNIB product and is know as RNIB React. It is an orientation device used to assist blind and partially sighted people navigate in town and city open spaces or large areas such transport interchanges. The unit is triggered by a radio frequency fob carried by individuals. An audio message is spoken, giving navigation information. It is also being developed to make Real TIme Information signs audible
    It has been recently redesigned and this is why some RNIB employees may not have recognised the device.
    The insallations in Newcastle and Portsmouth are very recent. The system can also be found in Birmingham, Leeds, York, Newbury Bolton and Brighton.

  5. valdemar says:

    February 18th, 2009 at 10:06 am

    I recorded the messages for the Newcastle system. I was slightly miffed to read in the press that the voice has a Geordie accent, as I was born and raised in Sunderland!

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