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Smart posters direct mobile users on London’s underground

Antony Savvas

Smart posters are showing mobile users the way to go on London's underground system.

A pilot scheme that displays maps, directions and real-time travel advice on mobile phones began this week.

The three-month trial, centred around Blackfriars station, will see near field communication (NFC) technology embedded in a number of "touch point" posters.

When an NFC enabled mobile phone is placed against the smart poster it will pinpoint the location of the passenger and then transmit detailed information, including where to go to make the next stage of their journey, how to get there, how long the transfer will take, and when the next service will arrive.

This information includes all modes of transport in the vicinity of Blackfriars, including tube, national rail, buses and river services.

The project, named Vortix (Visualisation of Real-time Transport Interchange), is a collaboration between Transport for London (TfL), Imperial College London and Kizoom, a transport intelligence company.

The project has received funding from a Department for Trade and Industry technology-development award, which last year was won by a TfL-led consortium for its real-time integration programme.

The trial involves the installation of 19 smart posters in and around Blackfriars station, including the underpasses, and will be pu on trial in the first instance by a small number of specially enabled handsets.

As the pilot progresses, the number of handsets will increase, and by the end of the year there will be up to 500 handsets in use.

Passengers taking part in the trial will input a destination into their NFC enabled phone and then, when changing modes at Blackfriars station, will be able to use a touch-point poster.

Users who have not entered a destination into their phone can touch the poster and receive travel information to visit local attractions and landmarks.

The touch-point posters are also environmentally sound as they do not require a power source, but instead are powered by induction from the mobile phone handset.

Janko Mrsic-Flogel, TfL head of mobile innovation, said, "We are integrating positions of underground trains, buses, railway stock and even riverboats to give the user accurate information on their best connection to their destination."


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