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NYC rolling out touchscreen displays in subways for directions, schedules

touchscreen subway display

Covered in detail by Fast Company recently, New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority is working with an organization called Control Group to install approximately 90 touchscreen displays at popular New York City subway stations such as Grand Central station. Installed around pay areas as well as the train platforms, the interactive 47-inch displays will allow NYC passengers to tap another subway stop on the map in order to check out the quickest route to their destination. In addition, users will be able to see when the next train is scheduled to arrive at the stop as well as see reasons why a train has been delayed.

NYC subway directionsBesides showing users the fastest route to a specific station, the displays will also offer directions to popular NYC landmarks and destinations. These special destinations could also be changed seasonally.

For instance, Central Park is a popular destination during the summer when people want to relax under the sun while Rockefeller Center is a popular destination during the winter when people want to check out holiday decorations or zip around on the ice skating rink. Ideally, these displays should help tourists move around the city more expediently.

Beyond assisting passengers with directions, the displays will also serve up plenty of advertisements. The advertisements can be adjusted based off current NYC events or weather conditions. For example, if snow happens to be blanketing the city, that could trigger advertisements for a hot cup of Starbucks coffee. The touchscreen displays are protected from harsh weather and can handle temperatures up to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. The displays are also encased in a steel frame in order to increase security.

Regarding the cleanliness of the screens, MTA employees will be routinely cleaning the waterproof-casing over the screen throughout the day. In addition, the user doesn’t have to actually touch the screen with their finger in order to interact with the display. For instance, the user can poke the screen with a pencil or pen in order to check out the fastest route to another subway stop.  

nyc touchscreen displaysAlong with the touchscreen technology, the displays will also come equipped with Wi-Fi connectivity, microphones and video cameras. Regarding Wi-Fi connectivity, this could hypothetically allow passengers to communicate with the displays in order to download their selected route to a tablet or smartphone.

Assuming the MTA approves the use of other applications, the displays could allow passengers to compete with each other in simple mini-games while waiting for a train to arrive. Moving into multimedia advertisements, the displays could provide access to a new movie trailer streamed over the Wi-Fi connection to smartphones of interested passengers. 

Built-in video cameras could allows the MTA to analyze the number of people moving through the station, but it’s likely existing security cameras already provide that function. However, the installed microphones and video cameras could allow MTA employees to video chat with each other during an emergency situation. Video and audio functionality could also be built into applications for the displays, but it’s likely that MTA officials want passengers to use the displays quickly for directions rather than linger at the screen playing with a particular app. 


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