Investigate the applications of AR in the tram network
Yarra Trams, the worlds largest tram network.
The use of Augmented Reality (AR) technologies as an advanced tool to support safer work environments is a disruptive trend being applied in several fields worldwide. The project aimed at investigating uses and applications of AR in the Tram Network (i.e. tram stops or within the organisation).
The team identified two viable solutions – 3D real-time timetable (Part A) and 3D visualisation tool for Disability Discrimination Act compliance (Part B) that were prototyped and developed as proof of concept. A detailed documentation of the process and business case were also a part of the deliverables.
View the final prototypes
In a multidisciplinary team of 4
I handled the design phase, from structuring and conducting design workshops with the stakeholders to creating low fidelity prototypes to finally designing the high fidelity prototype using Unity and Vuforia softwares. Our scope of work was till the prototyping phase.
We followed a design thinking process
We emphasised on design thinking, starting with primary and secondary research (Empathise & Define) followed by brainstorming ideas and devising use-cases (Ideate) to finally, designing and developing high fidelity prototypes for the finalised use-cases following a rapid prototyping approach.
Identifying the painpoints
Through interviews and observations
We conducted 10 interviews with the managers of each department: customer experience, maintenance & servicing, safety, asset management, operations, rolling stocks, training & projects, marketing and passenger experience, projects directorate and tram tracker team.
We also split into two teams, selected routes (the longest and busiest routes) to observe the following:
- Ease in locating the tram stops and also going in the right directions
- Signages near or on the tram stops
- Accuracy in the arrival of the trams
- Information stickers and displays inside the trams
- Observing the passengers/drivers and their behaviours inside the tram
We were surprised to see that each of the departments had a unique problem to solve therefore we converged and streamlined the problems that could be solved with the help of AR. Some of the common findings which could be solved with the help of AR were:
- Passengers expected real-time information about the arrival of the trams
- Lack of safety awareness amongst the passengers
- Difficulty in imagining and visualising the 2D architectural drawings into 3D tram stops
- Need for ease of communication with good visual data for external stakeholders
- Need for making all the tram stops DDA compliant
From the common findings, we started to brainstorm our solutions and devise use-cases. The use-cases are categorised with respect to the important stakeholders involved, pre-requisites detailing the applications required to implement and their predicted benefits.
Use-Cases w.r.t KPI's
We benchmarked the above use-cases to drill-down to the most feasible and appropriate use-cases for Yarra Trams. The benchmark was performed based on few key decision criteria including cost, stakeholders, integration, time, market availability, ROI (Return on Investment). Later, the use-cases were ranked, and a conclusion were drawn by identifying the most feasible and use-cases. The final use-cases were as follows:
- User should be able scan the QR codes at the tram stops which provides them with real-time tram information in 3D format
- User should be able to scan the QR codes at the tram stops which provides them with safety videos about safety around trams
3. User should be able to augment a 3D BIM model on a 2D plan and also project the model on real-world construction site
3D real-time timetable using QR codes. Alternate to the PID screens at tram stops
A questionnaire was designed targeting the daily passengers. The survey aimed at understanding the passenger demographics, frequently used travel mode, likelihood of QR codes use and prefered user interface.
A series of seven questions were explored with 25 respondents. Below are results obtained from the survey.
A persona was then created focusing on the painpoints while travelling by trams
Process Flow Diagram
Low fidelity protoypes
Meetings were held with managers from Passenger Service Delivery and Design, Brand and Production to obtain feedback on the low-fidelity prototype created by the team. In total, 9 layouts were presented which each highlighting their own features such as GPS tracking, integrated safety videos, showing events updates and videos as even hyperlinks. Below are few of the sketches.
High fidelity protoypes
After multiple iterations, considering feasibility and maintaining the branding of Yarra Trams and PIDS screens, high fidelity prototypes were then developed using Unity and Vuforia software. Below shows the development of the prototype in Unity.
Disability Discrimination Act + AR
The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) ensures that people are fairly treated despite having a disability. Disability discrimination is “when a person with a disability is treated less favourably than a person without the disability in the same or similar circumstances”. To remove disability discrimination from public transport services, the Australian Government has created the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport (DSAPT). This is a guideline that specifies the legal and national requirements that must be met for transport service providers and facility operators.
By 2022, all tram stops are to be made fully accessible.
In design construction process
- The design-contruction lifecycle is fragmented, arduous and wasteful
- Problems and errors are frequently identified after construction begins
- The process involves many stakeholders with conflicting interests
- Many different priorities in this process and DDA requirements are often overlooked
Building Information Model + AR
The adoption of BIM into the lifecycle of the tram stop. BIM facilitates greater collaboration between all parties and the benefits are expected to emerge throughout the lifecycle such as in design, construction and facility management.