Location-based services use information on the geographical position of mobile devices like smart phones and tablets. These services are expanding beyond consumer-facing products like the check-in applications (apps) one often sees on Facebook, and nowadays they are even powering advertisements, weather and travel apps.
© Andres Rodriguez - fotolia
One such app was developed by the European Union (EU)-funded OPTI-TRANS project. OPTI-TRANS app is a multimodal journey planner that allows users to organise their journeys quickly and efficiently. The technology combines information from various public transport authorities and other private vehicle owners, displaying the optimal route and transport combinations for users' journeys, based on their location.
“OPTI-TRANS app is currently available for the cities of Athens, Madrid, London, New York and Boston. It is however expanding rapidly to cover 420 cities across the globe", says OPTI-TRANS project coordinator, Dr. Stelios C. A. Thomopoulos at the Demokritos National Centre of Scientific Research in Athens, Greece.
The app also incorporates Transport-on-Demand and Passenger-on-the-Curb facilities that allow privately-owned vehicles to be shared with other subscribers.
Other useful information that really enhances a user's experience includes information about timetables, nearby stops, traffic congestion, strikes, and areas of interest in a given city.
“OPTI-TRANS takes into account users' preferences such as the quickest and cheapest route, as well as the maximum desired walking distance,” adds Thomopoulos.
The project team also has expansion ambitions, going beyond the pedestrian and public transport navigation tool. These future plans include integrating the system with augmented reality video games and using it in indoor localisation and navigation systems. This will open up a new window of opportunity, making OPTI-TRANS a welcome tool for tourists looking to find their way around museums and other historic buildings.
“We are also working on extending OPTI-TRANS's reach to target people with disabilities,” says Thomopoulos.
OPTI-TRANS app runs on iPhone, Android and Windows operating systems, as well as a web application. It can also be downloaded from the Appstore, Play Store or Windows Market.