Nine passenger tech firms chosen for Bristol Temple Meads testbed

‘Station Innovation Zone’ brings together SMEs with ideas to help improve the passenger experience.

Nine technology firms with concepts designed to make rail stations safer, easier to navigate and more social for passengers have been selected to develop proposals to trial their innovations at Bristol Temple Meads.

The cohort met yesterday (Wednesday 18 January 2023) for the first time at an event inside the iconic train station organised by Connected Places Catapult.

Over the coming months the SMEs will be supported by the Catapult to develop proposals to trial their technologies as part of the Station Innovation Zone – a multi-million-pound programme at Bristol Temple Meads established to test new ways to improve various aspects of the passenger experience. Innovations being taken forward as part of the programme cover three industry ‘challenges’ set by Network Rail and the Catapult which are ‘Safe Station’, ‘Seamless Station’ and ‘Social Station’.

Solutions selected for the first cohort include technologies focused on making journeys easier for people with special needs, stations more accessible with wayfinding apps, and using artificial intelligence to identify behaviours that might be unsafe.

The nine firms welcomed onto the Station Innovation Zone cohort, and their innovations, are:

Createc – A LIDAR crowd monitoring system called Situate which uses Artificial Intelligence to alert operators to incidents in real time and warn of concerning activity. A single sensor can cover large distances and be alert to people running or standing too close to the platform edge.

GoMedia – Providing accessible wayfinding information for blind and visually impaired persons using colourful codes placed on surfaces that are scanned using smartphones. The system is known as Visor and supports over 24 different languages.

Hello Lamp Post – An interactive engagement platform that connects people to their town, city or public space through their mobile phone. The service, known as Hello Station, provides passengers with an accessible way of finding out train service information, directions to amenities and a chance to suggest local area improvements, via QR codes and two-way text based chats.

Jnction – A passenger assistance app known as Aubin designed to help neurodiverse passengers and others who may find travel difficult. It provides journey information, accessible station detail and direct communication with carers and station customer experience staff.

Maynard Design Consultancy – Personalised travel assistance app Travelporter provides information that is customised to the individual needs, priorities and preferences of every passenger. It delivers real-time support exactly when it’s needed and in the most accessible format.

Ocean 3D – Providing interactive 360° tours of a station or train type on a 4G or Wi-Fi connected smartphone, tablet or desktop computer to assist with journey and destination planning for people with hidden conditions or disabilities. The tours have also been shown to help reduce potential stress.

Signapse – Use of Artificial Intelligence software to translate spoken and text messaging into Sign Language, helping the Deaf community receive a better level of information at stations. Videos would be displayed on screens when tannoy announcements are made.

Sugar Creative Studio – A mixed reality wayfinding app allowing users to navigate stations more easily and helping those with mobility issues avoid stairs. Artificial Intelligence is used to display a route that is overlaid onto the real world with augmented reality.

WorkfromHub – Reimaging underused areas of stations as productive workspaces. Allowing people to book time in converted station rooms that were previously redundant, as part of a concept described as ‘Stations as Places’.

“Stations are rich, complex intersections of people, digital and the physical world. They deserve the best of new creativity to improve the experience for travelling passengers whilst efficiently supporting station management teams. This first cohort represents a range of exciting new approaches to making better use of stations whilst improving accessibility for all.”
Alan Peters, Ecosystem Director – Rail and Stations at the Connected Places Catapult

Once the selected SMEs have developed their trial proposals, these will each be evaluated by a team from the Catapult and Network Rail, with up to three chosen to progress to live trials. This group will be supported with further funding and expert support to install, test and evaluate their technologies at Bristol Temple Meads. Passengers at the station are likely to witness the first of these trials in Spring.

To find out more about the nine companies in our cohort, download our brochure.

Station Innovation Zone 2023 Cohort 1 Guide
File Type: pdfFile size: 1.4MB

The Station Innovation Zone programme is being delivered by Connected Places Catapult in partnership with Network Rail and is supported by Innovate UK.