London tube gets smart posters

Travellers on the London’s public transport network could soon be using their phones to help them get about, as Transport for London (TFL) unveils a trial of Near Field Communication (NFC) technology.

The three-month trial, centred around Blackfriars London Underground station, will see NFC embedded in a number of smart posters.

When a NFC-enabled mobile phoned is placed against the smart poster, it will pinpoint the exact location of the passenger and then transmit detailed information including where to go to make the next stage of the 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: Tube; National Rail; buses and river services.

The project, named VORTIX (Visualization of Real-time Transport Interchange), is a collaboration between TFL, Imperial College London and transport intelligence company Kizoom, and has received funding from the Department for Trade and Industry.

The trial will involve the installation of 19 smart posters and will be trialled 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 devices in use.

In related news, security firm Gemalto and NXP Semiconductors have collaborated on developing a SIM-enabled NFC platform which will work with NXP’s MIFARE technology. MIFARE is used as the Oyster branded contactless ticket system on London’s public transport network.

The move could eventually see Londoners using their mobile phones as transport tickets.

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