It’s that time of year, when we see the work our MRes cohort have produced for their group projects. It’s always a pleasure, and this year was no exception.
Themed around Local Connections, the students linked in with the exhibitions and activities happening at the London Transport Museum‘s Designology season to create their own visions of bus stops which incorporate Smart City data feeds to engage the captive audience of bored people waiting for a bus.
Our first group (Anouchka Lettre, Luigi Rossi and Thomas Russell) based their design on the swiss railway clock and the “multiple time zone” views seen in 20th Century banks and international businesses.
This was in line with a design philosophy which used different scales of time to show users the now (which buses are on their way), the near (where can I get a coffee/meal/stroll within a few minutes), and the more distant future (what events will happen close to this location in the coming hours and days). You can see an example of this for Goodge Street (CASA’s closest tube station at time of writing), but the team have worked up an API which takes data from Eventbrite, Google Places, Wikipedia, and elsewhere – meaning this will work for any bus stop in London.
The team ascertained that people buying coffee or a meal want quality, value and convenience – the radar plot in the bottom left corner represents the users preferences (blue) along with the properties of the cafe (orange) so they can see at a glance how close is comes to their criteria.
They experimented with dynamic basemaps, with different coloration and even 3D rendering of shadows to represent the passage of time, and Ben Day-style print effects to match the appearance of the group’s data visualisations to print media onsite:
Our second group definitely has the best project title we’ve ever seen at CASA, and they set themselves the challenging task of working within the existing design framework of TFL’s bus stops, designing elements for each part of the stop:
The team had certainly set themselves a design challenge to work with such a visually rich template and integrate real-time data feeds in a legible way. Their solution focussed on only drawing attention to key elements, and giving users a moving indicator of where their bus is. Here is a excerpt:
Notice how they have de-emphasized irrelevant routes, represented buses with colour-coded circles to prevent clutter when they overlap, and retained detailed summary information about all the local buses on the right hand side. They brought this animated spider map together with local information to provide this dashboard view of where you are now:
The group also provided an animated 3D view of the local space, building on the bus arrival information and models of the buildings in the local environment.
A huge thanks to Becky Hatchett and Emma Hockley at London Transport Museum for putting together our discussion session earlier in the month, and to TfL for their input and feedback.