When Craig Slagel created RunGo, a GPS running app, it was for himself – not for those with visual impairments. “I was always getting lost on my runs and I needed a solution,” he says, which inspired him to “create an app that guides you.” He started development in 2012, and officially launched RunGo in 2015. Instead of the typical directions you would get from GPS – “Turn left in 800 metres” – the instructions were more descriptive, like “Turn left at after the park.” And, while he did use his dog (who is a retired guide dog) as inspiration for the running app (thinking, how his dog would navigate the route), the app is mostly used by run route fanatics sharing their favourite routes in cities around the world. But it’s the stories about his visually impaired users that are so inspiring.
“We have one runner who has limited hearing, wears a hearing aid and has about five to 10 percent vision,” says Slagel. “She was running with a partner, but he had to take a break from running. She was using the app more and more and felt that the app gave her independence to run on her own and at her own pace.” And she’s helped Slagel improve the app and make it more accessible.
RunGo app is a community-based running GPS app. Users can upload, rate and add to routes. “About 200 users create routes ever day around the world,” says Slagel. They can also share their runs on Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms. There’s also a live tracking feature, so friends and family know where the runner is. As for the running experience, the app can be used on an iPhone, android and Apple Watch Series 2. You choose a route in your area, and head off! The app works with your music player, so you don’t have to run in silence waiting for the next direction). “Local runners will create routes and we have a team that will create and verify routes to be safe and scenic,” says Slagel.
To make the app work better for those with visual impairments, RunGo is working with running groups, like that within the CNIB, to create routes and improve the app. For more info or to download the app, go to rungoapp.com.