HS2 is developing digital virtual reality (VR) technology to evaluate and improve its designs to help travelers navigate the new HS2 station at Old Oak Common in north-west London.
This initiative is said to be the first development in the world where RV, eye tracking and emotion detection technology will be used to facilitate passenger movement.
As part of its innovation program, HS2 has collaborated with the design and design technology of small and medium-sized companies CCD Design & Ergonomics and the designer of WSP stations for the development of “wayfinding”.
If successful, the technology will eventually be used to design other HS2 stations and associated buildings.
As part of the program, three sample groups selected from members of the traveling audience will wear virtual reality headsets and enter a virtual version of the new 14-platform station.
In the virtual version, these passengers will be asked to travel around the station to reach meeting points, platforms and to change services between HS2 and Crossrail through the signage incorporated in the current design.
An additional session for passengers with reduced mobility will also be held to explore what additional assistance they may require for navigation.
VR headsets will be equipped with eye-tracking technology to monitor the passenger’s eye movements as they move through the virtual station.
This will help detect any distractions inside the 100,000 m² railway interchange station that may restrict stress-free movement.
The emotion detection software installed on the VR headset will track the wearer’s facial expressions, along with changes in heart rate at the digital VR station.
The data collected by the CCD will allow HS2 and station designers to evaluate and improve station designs for better navigation.
HS2 Innovation Manager Heather Donald said: “HS2’s super hub at Old Oak Common is the UK’s largest single construction station.
“Up to a quarter of a million passengers will use it to connect HS2, Great Western and Elizabeth trains every day, so it’s vital that its design is adjusted to deliver a stress-free shift change. in the passenger experience “.
In a different development, a new sanitation system is being tested at Manchester Piccadilly station to provide passengers with additional protection against the Covid-19.
In addition, Network Rail plans to introduce a new bridge design to try to transform rail crossings across the UK.