INTERACTIVE BUS STOP
A interactive installation that serve as a bi-directional communication tool between bus driver and passenger.
Problem: lack of communication methods between the bus driver and awaited passenger at the bus stop
• Bus drivers and passengers use led light as communication tool: stop signal on the led panel in the bus; led display installed outside of the bus to indicate status of the bus (i.e “Sorry bus is full”).
• However, there is a missing link in this communication system: the awaited passengers at the bus stop has no method to communicate with the bus driver.
• Bus drivers often have to “guess” whether or not if passenger wanted to board, not to mention the visibility at night is making this task to be extremely difficult.
• Various types of bus stop: shelter style bus stop, bench style bus stop, or just the signage itself.
• Passengers often have to perform “gestures” to indicate whether or not if they are going to board.
• Potential to utilize the led light as shared element to bridge the gap between the passengers at the bus stop and the bus driver.
The bus stop with just the signage is the most problematic type, this is where the bus driver will have the most difficult time identifying the passengers at night. With just the signage poll and the limited space around to work with, one possibility is to install a touch sensor on the poll, similar to the push button for the pedestrian crossing signal.
However, the touch sensor is not the most ideal trigger because we have to consider the duration of the signaling light after the sensor is being activated. There could be a scenario where the bus driver sees the light flashing and pulls over, and finds there is no one waiting.
Therefore, I decided to use the pressure sensor to transform the waiting space to an interactive boarding space: the bus signage will only light up when there are passengers waiting in the boarding space, notifying the bus driver to prepare for a stop. In comparison to the touch sensor on the poll, the pressure sensor can ensure the light to be off as soon as the passengers are on board.
1. Planning: first stage of the design, I begin with user observation and site studies on various bus stops, signage dimensions as well as the circuitry on pressure sensor.
2. Prototyping: creates a card-board mock up to visualize the design in 1:1 ratio and experiment with the pressure sensor. I constantly went back and forth between planning and prototyping stage, as I ended up building three different models to see which one will work the best in the context of our problem.
3. Refining: more designing and prototyping! This is the stage where I can explore different materials to test out what’s the most effective for the design outcome. For example, I learned that “back-lit” paper is most ideal for light projection as it provides excellent visibility for the signage at night.
The original bus signage was replace by my interactive signage during the night time. I’ve also placed the boarding zone (the pressures sensor mat) half a meter away from the road and right besides the bus poll, the passengers will be required to wait in the designated area that’s distant from the traffic. After the installation, I asked a few passengers nearby to interactive with the design, especially when the bus is approaching.
The participants tried five attempts in total, and every time the bus driver had pulled over right next to the designed boarding zone. In addition, all five bus drivers have responded that they noticed the signage lit up from far way, and it significantly helped improve their sight at night.
With the given time of two weeks to work on this design, the process was fun but challenging. I spent a great amount of time on site studies and discovered many factors that I have not considered in prior to my research.
I also experimented (and failed) many times throughout the prototyping stage as my first two models wasn’t functional as I first envisioned. Both shared the same problem on the technical aspect: the copper tape is conducting the electricity too well due to the heavy weight of the mat, thus the sensor was activated at all times and wouldn’t turn off.
After I started to experiment with less conductor and its various placements on the mat, I finally got the pressure sensor to work properly on my third model. Overall, I am quite pleased with prototype #3 and its feedbacks from the bus drivers.
However, this is a project that I would like to develop further in the future, as I am already thinking to implement solar panels to the signage so its self-sustainable. The next step in scope is to make the interactive signage more durable and stable, so it can become a reliable communication medium for the transits.