Piaggio Fast Forward: Exploring “pedestrianism”
We explored who, in the space of innovation on mobility, is driving disruptive conversation, asking where extreme innovation, based on data, sustainability, technology, meets empathy, human needs and return on society?
At present, the best a person with a nervousness towards travelling can do is rely on outdate 2D birds-eye maps of stations that give no sense of scale or busyness and certainly no visual prewarning of the quirks and idiosyncrasies that are commonplace at railway stations. For those with short connections or those already travelling who have a connection and are experiencing a delay, being able to almost count your steps to the platform you need get to from the one you will arrive on, while you are already on your journey is a step towards the seamless train journey. So, how can we involve with a demographic who were currently reluctant to engage with the rail network? How to identify and explore the reasons for their reluctance to engage?
The project objective was to create a working proof-of-concept for an explorable ‘Digital Twin’ railway station – in this case: Newcastle Central Station. Through our work we involved our VOICE community and a number of people within this demographic agreed to co-create with us a practical solution along this applied research journey and remained the project group for the duration (eight months).
We will explore how:
- To alleviate the ‘unfamiliarity’ with the station tension, and enable as realistic an experience as possible, a highly detailed virtual version of Newcastle Central Station – a digital twin – was co-designed and co-developed by our VOICE team participants, along with an easy to understand ‘User Interface’ to allow free-roaming or structured way-finding; all of which could be experienced in full audio-visual Virtual Reality environment. This project is also novel by using an emerging technologies (CGI, VR, AR and animation).
- The way the information is presented has allowed the users to consume station detail prior to traveling in their own comfortable surroundings and has influenced their behaviour in a positive manner, allowing them to see and overcome any possible pain-points when navigating Newcastle station. This will decrease the stress experienced during a journey and remove passenger anxiety and frustration by breeding a familiarity of station well before they arrive in ‘real-life’.
- Although we don’t currently know the direct correlation between VOICE members now travelling by rail as result of navigating the 3D station model, anecdotally we can say that this user group feels empowered to do so. The measured and observational feedback has been, without exception, highly positive so this is a comfortable assumption to make.