MassDOT Developers Real-Time Challenge physical entry

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Allen Smith

Mar 19, 2010, 4:43:30 PM3/19/10
to MassDOTDevelopers
I have created a physical bus arrival time indicator that uses the
familiar clock face to indicate the arrival time of the next bus along
a route for both the inbound and out bound bus. A picture of the
device installed at J.P. Licks is available here:

And a movie of it in operation is here:

Installation is very easy - simply plug the device in. The onboard
GPS will determine it's location and assign the correct inbound and
outbound stops for the display. If the device is deep inside and a
GPS fix is not available the nearest cell tower location will be used
to assign appropriate bus stops. To confirm or change stop numbers
simply call 617-208-4063 and enter the device serial number and PIN if
assigned. The prototype device serial number is 9876

A recycled cell phone contacts my server which provides the prediction
time for the selected stop.

Display of bus arrival time with a familiar clock face has numerous
advantages over digital displays. Time to arrival is easily
understood and can be read to the minute, yet a clock-hand indicator
conveys an appropriate level of precision. Unlike digital signs which
increase in cost with the square of the size, a clock face scales from
room size to stadium readable size with relatively little increase in
cost. The clock face is a format that advertising buyers are already
familiar with and provides ample space for advertising.

The technology that makes this kind of connected sign possible for a
very low cost is the availability of low-cost recycled cell phones
commercially available from:
Cell phones that would work for this application are available in
quantities of 1000's for less than $10 and data plans for these phones
cost less than $5 per month.

You can see in this photo that a recycled cell provides the GPS and
network connection.
The hands are driven by commodity hobby servos controlled by a circuit
connected to the phone's serial port. The total Bill of materials
cost for this device is below $30

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