6 Smart transport

6.1 Introduction

Smart transport is an important part of the work to ensure mobility needs for everyone. Using the internet, wireless solutions and electronic equipment, the goal is to create a universally designed travel chain, where everyone should be able to make use of available travel routes. With the help of these aids, information can become more accessible, it can be easier to plan your journey, and make it easier to communicate with personnel. It can also contribute to up-to-date real-time information. Essentially, these aids are based in various applications that can be used in conjunction with a smartphone. Smartphones are therefore central as a tool in smart transport. Most of the applications mentioned below are manufactured by foreign companies, but with today’s technology they are available across borders – and most are translated into Norwegian. There is little in the Norwegian market on smart transport that can be used as aids for people with disabilities.

Included in this chapter is an overview of available aids in smart transport. The chapter is divided into different disabilities in the first part, then comes an overview of work under development. This means projects in smart transport that have not yet been realized but are now being developed in order to be able to take smart transport a step further and make everyday life more adapted for people with disabilities. Finally, there is also an overview of aids that can be used across user groups.

6.2 Universal design and smart transport

In order to gain insight into several reasons why universal design is essential in smart transport, including the use of smartphones, one can use as an example the studies carried out by «The Disability Innovation Institute” in Australia, where they have concluded that the use of smartphones provides an increased opportunity for socialization, increased sense of belonging in a group and increased social affiliation for people with disabilities.

6.3 Challenges and solutions related to smart transport

 6.3.1  Visual impairments

Below is an overview of smart solutions that have been developed, or are under development, to help people with different visual impairments. Often, these solutions are based in various applications for smartphones. When it comes to public transport, a number of challenges may arise for persons with reduced vision. Among other things, available audio-based information is essential, where information is usually provided in the form of signs such as at a train station or a terminal. Here, smart technology can be a good supporter. In addition, smart technology can provide opportunities to have the environment described through 3D technology.  The objective is thus that smart technology can, for example through image recognition and facial recognition, help persons with visual impairments to a more universally designed travel chain.

This system is designed to be able to communicate the necessary information to everyone more easily. Through an application on the smartphone, various audio tutors can be activated to provide information about, among other things, location, departures and more. These sound spots are installed at various points of interest, which can include the entrance to a train station or the location of counters. This system is currently installed at, for example, various metro stations in Paris.

Accessible Pedestrian Signals (APS)
APS, or Available Pedestrian signals, are designed to better inform pedestrians with a visual impairment about the conditions at traffic lights. Cities can provide information about which traffic lights have this option, which in turn allows the pedestrian to plan their trip so that these traffic lights can be sought out and used for a safer travel chain around the city. In this field, we have, among other things, the French-made product aBeacon Accessible Pedestrian Signals, which is a tool for this.

Reading aloud from smartphones
Reading aloud from smartphones is technology that allows people with visual impairments to get all the information from smartphones without the use of images. Information about text messages, battery volume and application usage are read aloud. For Apple products, this aid is called VoiceOver, and for Android products, it’s called TalkBack.

When using smartphones, dictation is also a useful aid for persons with visual impairments. Here you can use the phone using your voice. These are aids offered, among other things, by Apple. Here the system is called Siri, and one can give the system a number of commands. Microsoft has also produced such a tool called Cortana. This works much like Apple’s Siri system, but here it is a matter of operating a computer using ones voice. Moreover, Google has also produced its own version of this, which is called the Google Assistant.

An application designed for public transport. This helps with real-time traffic information. That is, at the same time as the traffic situation changes, the application will constantly update its information about the traffic. This aid can be of great benefit in situations such as where audio advertisements are turned off. This can occur, for example, as an system error on the bus or tram.

Soundscape is an application designed to give persons with visual impairments a detailed description of the surrounding situation. Using 3D technology, the smartphone can pick up the surroundings around the traveler, thus providing a detailed description of them. This can be useful, for example, at a traffic light where continuous information is important. Furthermore, it can also be useful in unpredictable situations, or unexpected situations where more information is needed than can be planned in advance.

6.3.2  Hearing impairments

For people with hearing impairments, a number of applications have also been worked out to make the travel chain more accessible. Challenges that may arise for people with hearing impairments while traveling include when information is provided over speakers, while there is not enough written information. Another challenge is communication; this may be when contacting personnel in different contexts. It is rare to have available personnel who use sign language, and smart technology can then be central. Among other things, smart technology can translate group conversations so that the user can catch up on everything that is said and who is talking. There are also text-to-speech transcription applications to more easily communicate with your surroundings. These are just a few examples of how smart technology can make travel easier:

Ava: an instant transcription app
The application is designed to help persons with hearing impairments to follow a group conversation more easily. Ava transcribes the conversation as it goes, adding who says what. That is, names are added to the speaker so that the person with hearing impairment can more easily monitor what information comes from whom. It also adds sufficient vocabulary so that the conversation should be perceived as complete as possible.

RogerVoice – The New Year
Another application that works in the same way as Ava is RogerVoice. This is a French-made application that makes group conversations more available. This application has been made available in 90 languages.

Microsoft Translator
Microsoft Translator is a program that can add texts and explanations to online videos. That is, programs and videos that are published online can be more easily made available to everyone.

Virtual Assistants Siri and Google Assistant
Apple and Google’s aids can also be used, but as mentioned below in the chapter for aids for people with visual impairments, these aids become more relevant to such disabilities – as they mainly focus on transcribing visual stimuli into sound.

6.3.3  Reduced mobility

Regarding reduced mobility, smart transport is also essential, but a number of aids are being developed that are not yet on the market. These will most likely become essential for persons with reduced mobility. Below at 6.3.6 there is an overview of what is currently being worked on. One of the problem areas being focused upon is how to distribute sufficient information about facilitated travel options for users. Here they have now come up with some solutions.
Under this chapter we present a couple of applications that can make the travel chain easier for persons with reduced mobility.

This application is designed to create a network of information about the accessibility of different locations. It is made as a map which one can use to get an overview of which restaurants, shops, cafes, etc. are made accessible mainly for wheelchair users. The app is designed so that the users of the application also have the opportunity to log in and add information, recommendations and complaints.

Google Maps
This application is the most used in GPS navigation in the world. It can be used to create the most favorable itinerary ahead of your journey. In addition, the application has a feature called “Wheelchair Accessibility”. By activating this, you can get an overview of which itinerary provides the most optimal journey when using a wheelchair. An example of this may be public transport without stairs, or with elevators.

6.3.4  Cognitive impairments

This chapter lists a selection of applications that can help persons with cognitive impairment. These are not exclusively related to transportation but can be used in a variety of areas. Nevertheless, they can be important aids for persons with cognitive impairment in order to have the opportunity to use public transport.
The applications mentioned below have the function of, among other things, making communication easier with personnel in a transport context.

WatchHelp is a mobile phone application that is connected to a smartwatch. The application sends messages to the smartwatch in the form of images about, for example, today’s to-dos. That is, the clock gives a small signal about a new to-do, which can be easily interpreted using images instead of text. The application can then be programmed to suit the individual’s needs.

Google project “Euphonia”
This is a project that can help people with reduced speech ability to communicate more easily. It is a program designed to recognize the individual’s atypical speech and then transform it into a language that is more easily understood by everyone. This can make it easier for everyone to be able to communicate.

The Open Voice Factory
The Open Voice Factory is a free application that has much of the same uses as the Google project “Euphonia” but focuses on the conversion of the use of communication boards to others communication devices. The application is designed for adults and children, and provides the ability to communicate with speech by, for example, tapping images on a communication board. This is an application that has previously been very expensive in use, and not available to everyone. With The Open Voice Factory, this has now become much more accessible.

IFTTT stands for “IF This Then That” and is an application designed to connect all the applications one has on their smartphone. By doing this, one can more easily use the smartphone and all its possibilities.

6.3.5  Elderly with disabilities

Digitized homes
The objective of using smart solutions and welfare technology at an old age is to be able to give the user the opportunity to increase independence. At the same time, these solutions will provide a safer and more digitized everyday life. With more digitized everyday life, it is a matter of being able to more easily communicate with others.
One way to achieve this is to convert homes into smart homes. With the help of a few simple applications, one can convert the dwelling to be able to help create a more comfortable and independent life. An example here is the application Oval that can detect changes in movement, temperature and light. With the help of this one can be told if there is any new or unexpected activity from the home, and thus know when to go in and look after the user, without having to interfere with their private life too much. Moreover, there are also applications for monitoring the physical functions of the user when lying in a bed, such as breathing and heartbeat. There are voice-controlled home applications, which can allow older people with age-related disabilities to, for example, turn on lights and coffee makers without having to move, and smart locks, which means that the user can come and go from their home without having to worry about using a key.

6.3.6  Work in progress

Work under development refers to projects that have not yet been realized but are under development. Self-driving cars are an example of this, as the technology of the car itself exists, but putting it into the traffic system is not possible yet. Artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the factors to be used in these fields.
Artificial intelligence includes machine learning, which means that the technological solutions used can adapt and learn from different users and situations.

Self-driving cars
Self-driving cars are a project that has been in circulation for several years now, but due to restrictions has not yet been put to life. There are many different manufacturers working on this, and the self-driving car exists, but it cannot yet be on roads.
The idea is that the car should be able to be fully operational without any influence of the driver during travel. This could make everyday life considerably easier for a number of user groups. For example, with a mobility impairment, a self-driving car can make the travel chain considerably easier and accessible. In the case of a visual impairment, similar benefits can be obtained.

Wandercraft is an exoskeleton. An exoskeleton is an aid mainly designed for people with disabilities. Exoskeleton is a robotic technology, which can be attached to the body. It can be adapted for different user needs, and the goal is to be able to help, for example, the elderly and people with disabilities to walk. The skeleton acts as a machine that both keeps you raised up and at the same time makes walking possible. Wandercraft is one of several manufacturers working on this aid.
See also research news from NTNU and SINTEF in the same area.

Humble Lamppost Intelligent Public Lightning
Another project in smart transport is “intelligent” lamp posts. The project is based on a lamppost that can do much more than light up the road. Among other things, they should be equipped with speakers that can be activated by being near them. The lampposts can convey information about where you are and where to go next. The information provided shall be designed in such a way that it can be adapted to the individual’s user needs.

6.3.7 Other smart solutions that can be used by multiple user groups

This is an application that connects all types of transport available to users. That is, the application looks for the transport options available to the individual and provides a detailed overview of different itineraries. That is, the user can plan the most adapted itinerary, while at the same time the application provides opportunities to pay for the journey. You can thus start your journey with all the necessary information, as well as buying tickets.

This application is also produced to make the itinerary as adapted as possible, but here there is a focus on live updates of possible changes and obstacles on the road. It is a GPS system that sends out notifications about where changes may have occurred (such as roadworks), but also about available facilities nearby.
MappedED is a platform designed for students with disabilities. It is based at various universities around Europe, and with an overview of their availability. It is designed for students travelling through the Erasmus program and will make it easier for everyone to take a term abroad. With the help of this program, one can more easily plan where to travel, and whether there is sufficient facilitation where one wants to travel.

The Evolvable Walking Aid
This is an aid where you have several different parts that can be assembled into different movement aids. The parts can be assembled into a cane or crutch. With this, you do not have to buy new movement aids if your disability changes, but you can instead rebuild the one you already have.

Evelity is the first application created for indoor navigation. It can be adapted to the individual user’s needs, thus providing a detailed description of how to maneuver inside the building itself. It can provide information on everything from train stations, shopping malls, universities, etc. When using the application, it provides a step-by-step description of how to get there as easily as possible.
The application can be paired with, for example, VoiceOver or TalkBack (which are mentioned under Visual impairments) so that it can be used by people with visual impairments. In addition, there are separate features of the program that can provide a simplified description of the itinerary for people with impaired cognitive function.
Uber is a transportation service, which is mainly based in their application. The offer is a taxi solution where one can use the application to book and facilitate the journey. Here you have the opportunity to add if, for example, you are travelling in a wheelchair, or bringing a service dog. Uber has also pre-calculated the price so you can know how much the journey will cost before booking it, as well as information about where the journey will go and when it is expected to arrive. This can be shared with other users of the application, so that one can ensure a safer journey.

6.3.8 Additional sources for smart transport

Digitalisation Board
A Danish encyclopedia where you can search for various applications that can be used for persons with disabilities. In the search portal, it is possible to specify which disabilities are relevant and which category you wish to search within. There are a number of applications available through the portal. Some of the applications are based in Danish cities, but the site can be used as a good encyclopedia to see what is available using applications. You can also choose whether you prefer Danish or English user language.

6.3.9 Sources of interest

Oslo Municipality has initiated a project where the goal is to make handicap parking more accessible. With the help of underground sensors, you can easily know which parking spaces are available, even before you have left the home.

NAV’s application library will refer to applications that can be used as aids for people with disabilities, among others. The page can be used as a search engine for available applications within the site. Most results are aimed at people with age-related disabilities.

A Norwegian application that helps people with reduced communication ability to communicate more easily.

Minetegn is also a Norwegian application that allows you to create your own characters that can be communicated with. This can be used, for example, by people with reduced speech ability who also do not use the standardized alphabet. This is both a website and an application.