Gene Lu's Portfolio

Project PlatInform

As a final project for Jason Santa Maria’s Communicating Design class, we were to: “Identify a problem with navigating the NY Transit system. This could be a problem with existing means (wayfinding, maps, the website, etc), a point in the process that could be re-imagined, or the introduction of a new tool. It could be for use in a specific place, or all places, for a specific demographic or community, or all people.” We were also required to create promotional material used to get the word out about our new solution for the NY Transit system.

Problem
The problem that I addressed were the crowded train cars during rush hour. It’s one of those situations where you are practically forced into a car full of people since you have less than a minute to decide whether or not to run up and down the platform looking for an emptier car.

Overcrowded subway in NYC

Overcrowded subway in NYC

Solution
10 second pitch
What I propose is PlatInform, an intelligent platform that informs you where the most empty train cars are prior to the train pulling up into the station.

User Scenario

PlatInform consists of 10 light bars built into the platform where each bar corresponds to each train car

PlatInform consists of 10 light bars built into the platform where each bar corresponds to each train car

And there's you, waiting at the 42nd St station for a subway heading uptown

And there's you, waiting at the 42nd St station for a subway heading uptown

When the train leaves the 34th St station, it sends data based on the level of occupancy within each car to the next station

When the train leaves the 34th St station, it sends data based on the level of occupancy within each car to the next station

You see the lights on the platform light up and you move to one of them

You see the lights on the platform light up and you move to one of them

When the train arrives, you have an emptier train car waiting for you

When the train arrives, you have an emptier train car waiting for you

Stand here for an empty car

Stand here for an empty car

8am-9am Seats available

8am-9am Seats available

 

 

During prototyping, there were a few train riders that seemed skeptical about the signs on the platform, but a majority of them actually did follow the signs. Perhaps it was the novelty of a bright green sign on the ground that attracted them, but in hindsight, the second lady with the cane (at 0:30 in the video above) struck a chord with me.

When I initially set out on this project, my main target audience were subway riders in general. I didn’t really think about how PlatInform would affect the subgroups within that general pool of commuters, such as the elderly and the handicapped. Prototyping this project did two things for me 1) proved that PlatInform, for the most part, worked and 2) that there is a certain level of usefulness that this system provides based on whoever is using it.

Moving on, how does all of this look once implemented in the NYC subway stations? The following are a few mockups showing PlatInform in action.

A lady reading her paper without having to worry about a crowded train car

A lady reading her paper without having to worry about a crowded train car

People rushing to semi-empty cars at the 14th Street Union Square Station

People rushing to semi-empty cars at the 14th Street Union Square Station

It's early in the morning and people have a choice to not have to deal with crowded subway cars

It's early in the morning and people have a choice to not have to deal with crowded subway cars

Promotional Materials
A set of posters were created to inform commuters about the new platform system. Each poster featured a different position subway riders were forced into everyday during their rush hour commute. Special thanks to Colleen Miller for cheering me on as I pasted the posters all over one subway car.

Nobody likes a lap or pole dance while reading their paper

Nobody likes a lap or pole dance while reading their paper

Horizontal poster briefly explaining how PlatInform works (not Photoshopped)

Horizontal poster briefly explaining how PlatInform works (not Photoshopped)

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Information

  • 23 Dec 2009

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Lead UX Designer on Nike+ Running at R/GA.