A man at the metro station. Image: Jussi Hellsten

New sound beacons tested at Lauttasaari and Hakaniemi metro stations

The City of Helsinki and Helsinki City Transport HKL are looking for operators to provide new types of sound beacon solutions for metro stations and other locations through a rapid trial. The challenge is to find creative solutions for a sound beacon that works well, provides a variety of sounds and can be integrated into different spaces and the urban landscape. A sound beacon is a device that makes it easier for different user groups, such as the visually impaired or people with memory disorders, to move and function independently.

The first sound beacon will be implemented at Lauttasaari metro station at the Gyldenintie entrance. The trials started on Friday 24 September and the equipment can be adjusted and solutions adapted based on feedback received during the trial period. Other locations for the trial are Hakaniemi metro station at the Hakaniemi Market Square and Ympyrätalo entrances, and Kalasatama Health and Well-being Centre. The overall audio guides of metro stations will not change, but the trial areas will be limited to specific entrances.

Sound beacon creates suitable sound profiles for different times of the day

The Finnish company Innojok Oy was chosen as the service provider for the trial at Lauttasaari metro station. Innojok has developed new types of signalling sounds for traffic lights and general audio signalling for the visually impaired. The sound design is based on the experience of a wide range of experts, adapting the soundscape according to the site. Sound profiles can also be selected according to, for example, the time of day. Strongly directional loudspeakers are chosen for the trial, so that the sound is emitted in the desired direction and does not disperse distractingly to the rest of the environment.

Kelosound Oy was selected as the service provider for Hakaniemi metro station and the sound beacon solution for the Kalasatama Health and Well-being Centre will be implemented by Häme University of Applied Sciences. Kalasatama’s intelligent sound beacon solution conveys information about the destination, routes, multisensory signs and decision-supporting observable landmarks along the routes through the content descriptions of accessible maps.

The sound beacon trial is part of the City of Helsinki’s experimentation and innovation activities. It gives companies the opportunity to test their products in cooperation with the city. The trial sites and user experiences will be presented during the autumn on the city's innovation and experimentation website https://testbed.helsinki/en/.

WSP Oy, the Finnish Federation of the Visually Impaired and the Helsinki and Uusimaa Visually Impaired Association are participating in the trial as partners of the City of Helsinki and HKL.

Anyone visiting the sites can submit their evaluation of the trials using the online form. (The form is only in Finnish at the moment).