Our Access All Areas correspondent Zoe Maclean heads out on the streets of Largs and investigates the revolutionary new traffic light crossings in Largs which can be operated by bluetooth technology from a mobile phone...

After ten years in The RAF Gavin Neate commenced an 18 year career with Guide Dogs working as a guide dog mobility instructor. Gavin developed an extensive knowledge of assistive technology and visual impairment. In 2011 the company Neatebox was founded. The main focus of Neatebox since its beginning has been to promote access and inclusion for everyone in everyday environments through the use of assistive technology.

Readers may remember reading an article in the 'News' in February about the introduction of Neatebox technology to Largs at the Douglas Park traffic light crossing in the town. The technology works in the form of an application which can be installed on any smartphone or tablet device. The application is called ‘Button’ by Neatebox. The aim of the technology is to help users cross the road more confidently and safely. The application can be used by anyone and is particularly helpful to those with reduced mobility or visual impairment.

The technology can communicate with the traffic lights, via bluetooth indicating that a user of the application wishes to cross. The crossing is then activated automatically meaning there is no need to press a button. When the crossing signal sounds, the application also allows for an extended crossing time. This allows the user to cross with more confidence and safety. The technology has now been installed and is being trialled at each crossing in Largs by an independent research company on behalf of Neatebox. This makes Largs the first to trial this technology in the world.

I have been lucky enough to try the new ‘Button’ by Neatebox application on my mobile phone. I found the application very simple to access and easy to use. I set the application to automatic and as I approached the crossing with my phone in my pocket the crossing button was activated without me doing anything. As I began to cross I felt more confident as I knew there was an extended crossing time available thanks to the application. This also gave me a greater sense of independence as crossing the road is something I have always struggled with. ‘Button’ by Neatebox is free to download and is available on both Apple and Android smartphones. I would recommend this application to anyone who struggles to cross the road in a busy town such as Largs. If there is a particular crossing that you struggle to use then by downloading the application you can suggest a particular crossing to have the technology installed there.

In addition to ‘Button’ by Neatebox the company have recently launched a new application called ‘Welcome’ by Neatebox. This application is centred around improving customer service for disabled people and also increasing disability awareness amongst businesses. The disabled person can download the application free of charge on any smartphone. A disabled customer can enter details into the application of any assistance that they may require. For example, I am a wheelchair user and I need ramped access and assistance to open doors. The details entered within the mobile phone application can be personalised to suit each individual user. From a business perspective, businesses using the software, have prior warning of which customers are approaching and will get top tips on how to interact with the individual. As such shop assistants and business owners are better equipped and prepared as to how they can help and serve their customers. Anyone who downloads the ‘Welcome’ application to their smartphone can suggest local businesses where they feel that this technology would help to improve their customer experience. If you would like to find out more about Neatebox and would like help to download either of the applications please visit www.neatebox.com or contact Neatebox on  0131 247 6700 

The team at Neatebox are happy to help anyone who wishes to start using either of the applications on their mobile. Neatebox are also very keen to engage with local businesses in Largs and the surrounding areas to discuss the benefits of using the ‘Welcome’ application to enhance customer service.