Transport for NSW calls for beacon ideas to help customers

The state transport department is challenging tech-savvy visionaries to think up new ways leverage bluetooth technology to make public transport use easier

Transport of NSW is challenging tech savvy innovators to think up new ways to implement beacon technology in an effort to lift customer experiences and make catching public transport easier.

“We’re always looking for new ways to deliver better information, products and services to our customers and we want to work closely with the technology industry and entrepreneurs to see what they can come up with,” deputy secretary of customer service, Tony Braxton-Smith, said. “The Future Transport Beacon Innovation Challenge aims to focus the brightest minds in technology to showcase what is possible using Bluetooth beacons.”

Beacons put out low energy signals that can be picked up by mobile phone apps and used to provide information and prompts.

Submissions are now open for ideas to find new uses for a network of Bluetooth beacons already set up at Chatswood Station and bus interchange as part of a separate trial to help customers with vision impairment catch public transport more easily.

According to Braxton-Smith, the trial now underway at Chatswood Station and bus interchange uses the beacons to help customers with vision impairments navigate between trains, buses and places of interest in and adjacent to the interchange by sending location signals to a mobile phone, which then gives the customer audio cues.

“Other potential uses include providing customers with information about the next train services, local attractions or how to find your way from your train to your bus," he said. “We are open to any and all ideas that will improve our customers’ experience catching public transport. We’re keen to see how far this technology can go.”

The Beacon Challenge is a part of the Future Transport program. The best submissions will earn access to the trial beacon network from 10 October to 13 November. If the concept proves successful in the trial, the inventors will be invited to a live Demo Day to showcase their concepts to a panel of Transport for NSW leaders.

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