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Bus Stop


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Bus Stop

  1. SMART BUS LINE Exhibit in Paris, summer 2006 MIT Design Lab MIT mobile experience lab
  2. A project of the MIT mobile experience lab at MIT Design Laboratory. In collaboration with RATP.
  3. THE SELF-ORGANIZED LANDMARK The self-organizing bus stop serves as an electronic concierge and digital gateway to the offerings of both its own neighborhood and the transportation system at large. Through appropriate use of digital technology, we can turn bus stops into sensual, engaging, memorable landmarks that have varied and distinctive character, and that respond vividly to the unique features of their contexts and communities in multiple ways, at multiple scales, and in multiple time frames.
  4. Introduction The horse-drawn omnibus was introduced to Paris in the 19th cen- tury, and the fuel-powered bus in 1906. Today, smart urban mobility systems – making use of advanced sensing, computing, and networking technologies – promise a similarly profound revolution in transportation. CONCEPT The bus was one of the most successful inventions in the history of transportation, and it has served cities effectively for a century. Nowadays, we face new design challenges, and new technologies can help to meet them. This exhibit, a concept station – the result of two-year collaboration between MIT and RATP on Smart mobility – explores their emerging potential: the bus stop, a self-organizing landmark.
  5. In 1662, Blaise Pascal initiated the world’s first public transportation system – consisting of “five-penny” horse-drawn carriages. He also invented a calculator. Smart urban mobility systems belong to this rich genealogy, and draw these two themes of Pascal’s imagination together in a new way.
  6. Rethinking the bus system Urban mobility systems traditionally combine high-speed, high- volume, point-to-point transportation with more flexible but slower and lower-volume modalities – walking, bicycling, taking a taxi, and driving. Ubiquitous access to information through mobile wireless devices shifts the balance toward individual mobility. It allows high- volume transportation to become more flexible and responsive, and consequently, the traditional distinction between collective and individual transportation blurs. Transportation systems can become more responsive to changing demands, users can make better transportation decisions, and vehicles can provide important new services. The Smart Mobility project demonstrates the application of these concepts to the Paris bus system. Further details can be found online at
  7. Landmark interactive bus stops The bus stops of smart urban mobility systems function as power- ful urban landmarks, particularly in areas of the city that need strengthening of identity and focus. They can take advantage of twenty-first century digital display tech nology, in the same way that Guimard took advantage of the industrial technology of his time in his designs for Metro stations. Electronic, networked bus stops can serve as entry and orientation points for transportation systems and neighborhoods, supporting bus line agents – neighborhood concierges – who provide guidance and advice, both in person and online. The transportation system can broaden its role from that of a pro- vider of physical mobility to that of a comprehensive source of efficient access to the varied and far-flung resources and attractions of the city. This exhibit features a working prototype of a landmark interactive bus stop constructed from inexpensive materials. It does not have a standardized form, but takes advantage of new design and fabrication technology to adapt to different contexts and needs.
  8. The double sided bus stop, interacting and engaging Facing the city, the exterior of the prototype bus stop has a smart skin that senses and responds to the presence of pedestrians – thus creating a playful, engaging art work. It can be programmed with a wide range of continu-ally changing content as appropriate to particular localities and seasons. This particular prototype employs LEDs embedded in silicone tiles and video sensing for the smart skin. Facing the waiting passengers, the interior provides displays and interaction screens for way-finding and schedule information, news, local businesses and points of interest, and local community networking services.
  9. Reconfiguring buses By embedding electronic intelligence, buses can become more flexible, so that they wiggle themselves through the streets in more agile fashion. They can provide effective service to areas with narrow streets, winding roads, and complex topography. Use of flexible, versatile buses help to better manage interchanges among different transportation modes, thus making travel more efficient and less confusing; the “snake” bus can penetrate more areas of the city, and the “worm” bus can go underground. Below street level, in addition, the “worm” bus can enter efficient multimodal interchanges where pedestrians can access multiple transportation systems – private cars, shared cars, bicycles, and other public transportation systems. And versatile buses can combine passenger transport and cargo transportation during off peak hours, especially during the night. Furthermore, the “stadium” bus can provide both a window on the city and a place for bicycle storage. Through use of networking, display, and interaction technologies, buses can now provide many additional services, extending their role far beyond transportation. They can become mobile network nodes, so that passengers are connected for guidance, entertainment, mobile work, and tourism. Both interior and exterior surfaces can carry information displays. Buses can increasingly become work, entertainment, and social spaces on wheels, while their exteriors serve as dynamically programmed urban information displays.
  10. The bus stop is conceived of as one, continuously modulated ARCHITECTURE surface that responds to local conditions and functional requirements by gradually varying shapes, curvatures, and densities. The structure is composed of non-repetitive, CAD/CAM-cut ribs that vary in shape and density as required by structural and other roles. Parametric design allows us to create bus stops whose shapes are physically adapt to the surroundings, while maintaining a common underlying identity.
  12. The bus stop form was parametrically modeled, and organized to support CAD/CAM fabrication. This meant that bus stops did not need to be standardized and repetitive – expressing a typically modernist one-size-fits-all design philosophy – but could potentially be mass-customized to fit particular urban contexts and opportunities and patterns of transportation demand.
  13. Programmable LEDs in architecture have taken the form of urban scale screens that simply obliterate traditional architectural effects. We overcame this limitation by using flexible modular tiles consisting of coarsely spaced LEDs embedded in cast silicone, which allows them to conform to the parametric struc- ture of the bus stop. LED TILES
  14. In this translucent medium, pixels can flare not only in intensity but also in size, while the outer surface texture creates specular gloss and self-shading effects as well. In addition to providing water- proofing, the calibrated translucency allows an interplay of natural and artificial light. PROGRAMMABLE SURFACE
  15. The outside of the bus stop, facing the city, mirrors the internal urban garden. The skin playfully interacts with people and engages them by reacting to their behavior. Sensors and cameras also monitor external environmental activities such as traffic, air and acoustic pollution, and these elements are synthesized with the flow of digital communication to determine the urban garden’s wellbeing. SENSORS
  16. The bus stop is designed to be a self-organizing landmark, capable of blending chameleon-like into the neighborhood it is placed in. TWO FACES
  17. Reflecting local information, communication, and everyday activity, its façade elegantly changes over time to gain the markings of a member of the community.
  18. The interior of the bus stop, used primarily by passengers, contains INSIDE two screens dedicated to separate purposes. The first screen houses a location-centric communication and content platform. The second screen gives access to transportation information.
  19. The bus stop is also an open platform, allowing local artists to create OUTSIDE new interactions for the outside. The artist may chose to insert elements into the garden, or if they wish, to replace the entire vista with some fantastic landscape from their imagination.
  20. The second screen is a mean for use by the transportation agency to communicate information about services, products, service disruptions, and so on. On this screen, passengers can plan their trip and download it to their mobile devices. If needed, they can also start a videoconference with a live transportation agent for help. INFORMATION
  21. All content on this screen is user generated, including entries for local services, businesses, events, and classifieds. The interface concept used for this screen is the urban garden, with the trees serving as interface elements. Each tree represents a topic, and each leaf a message. The goal of the system is to foster interaction and communication between the users of the bus stop, and to allow them to shape the digital form of the bus stop with their own actions. The exterior, a direct reflection of this interface, thus reflects the richness, flow, and intensity of communication. URBAN GARDEN
  22. On this screen, passengers can plan their trip and download it to their mobile devices. If needed, they can also start a videocon- ference with a live transportation agent for help. MOBILE INTERACTION
  23. The prototype bus stop was part of the exhibtion „Le Bus, cent ans de mouvement“ in Paris, October 7-14 2006, curated by RATP. EXHIBITION
  24. MIT DESIGN LABORATORY Contact MIT mobile experience lab Federico Casalegno MIT Design Laboratory MIT mobile experience lab Direction William J. Mitchell, 238 Main Street, E48-319 Federico Casalegno (Motorola/MIT) 02142 Cambridge, MA, USA Team David Bouchard, Marcel Botha, Mirja Leinss, In collaboration with RATP CREDITS Miguel Menchu, David Raul Poblano, Orkan Telhan, Sajid Sadi Thanks to Sergio Araya, Onur Yuce Gun, Aaron Tang, Eric Weber, Caitlin Winner, Cynthia Wilkes and the MIT Media Lab Smart Cities group.
  26. The MIT mobile experience lab takes a multidisciplinary approach at understanding people’s experience using wireless communication technologies, while exploring how mobile media impact societies, communities and spaces.