Futuristic bus stop can ‘sense’ surroundings

Editorial Staff
June 4, 2009

Researchers from the SENSEable City Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) recently unveiled the design for a next-generation bus stop that can do just about everything except make a cappuccino. Called EyeStop, the high-tech bus stop was presented to Florence officials at the Genio Fiorentino festival in mid-May. The design is so innovative, it ‘could change the whole experience of urban travel', claims Carlo Ratti, head of the SENSEable City Lab.  ‘At the touch of a finger, passengers can get the shortest bus route to their destination or the position of all the buses in the city. The EyeStop will also glow at different levels of intensity to signal the distance of an approaching bus', Ratti explained. EyeStop features touch-sensitive e-INK and LED screens and many interactive services.  The environmentally friendly solar-powered EyeStop's high-tech features are matched only by its functionality, argues Ratti. Along with real-time information on where the bus is on its route, system delays, timetables, directions and other useful information, EyeStop is able to ‘sense' its surroundings, monitor pollution levels and provide air quality reports in seconds. It can even be interfaced with commuters' mobile devices so they can check their email or surf the Internet while they wait for their ride. Functioning as a community gathering space, it will have a digital message board where users can post adverts and announcements or register complaints and offer suggestions.  An EyeStop prototype will be unveiled in Florence in October 2009, with plans for 200 EyeStop bus shelters to be installed throughout the city by 2010. In addition, 1,000 EyeStop Poles, a smaller version of the EyeStop, without the shelter, will also be installed next year.The device was designed with Florence's unique aesthetic and practical needs in mind. Built with simple materials like steel, glass and Tuscany's characteristic pietra serena stone and featuring a minimalist design, the EyeStop is designed to blend into the historic urban fabric of Florence, its developers explain. Intended for tourists and locals alike, EyeStop's services will be accessible in several languages.

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